ROCKFORD – Former Dixon comptroller Rita Crundwell faces up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty this morning to a single charge of federal wire fraud.
Crundwell, 59, will be sentenced Feb. 14. She remains free on a $4,500 recognizance bond.
The plea comes nearly 7 months after Crundwell was arrested April 17 at City Hall.
According to the May 1 indictment, she wired $175,000 from a bank in St. Paul, Minn., to a bank in Cincinnati in November for her personal use.
The interstate transfer qualified it as a federal offense.
However, an affidavit accompanying the indictment detailed a 22-year scheme to misappropriate more than $53 million in city funds and funnel the money into a secret bank account she opened in 1990.
She told federal agents she used some of the money to fund her horse operations. Prosecutors say she also used the money to buy cars, boats, lavish homes, jewelry, and other items.
Many of her assets, including her herd of quarter horses, have been auctioned by the U.S. Marshals Services.
Marshals say the money will be given back to the city of Dixon when Crundwell's case is resolved.
Her legal woes aren't over, though. She also is charged with 60 counts of theft in Lee County. Prosecutors say she stole more than $11 million from the city since January 1990.
She has a pretrial conference Dec. 19 in that case.
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