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Offers made on 3 Crundwell properties

Marshals are accepting bids on all five parcels

Published: Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT

DIXON – Horses? Sold.

Luxury motor home? Sold.

Vehicles, boats, furniture, jewelry, other personal property? Headed toward the finish line.

After more than 7 months of selling Rita Crundwell’s empire piece by piece, the U.S. Marshals Service now is turning its attention toward the ousted Dixon comptroller’s five properties.

In fact, the service has received unsolicited offers for three sites, marshals said Wednesday: $450,000 for the 43 acres of farmland and single-family home at 1403 Dutch Road in Dixon; $700,000 for her 83-acre ranch at 1556 Red Brick Road, also in Dixon; and $540,000 for 81 acres of Lee County farmland. They won’t say from whom.

Her home at 1679 U.S. Route 52 in Dixon, and her vacation home in Englewood, Fla., have not received any bids as of Wednesday, said Jason Wojdylo, chief inspector of the marshals’ asset forfeiture division.

Marshals now are opening the competitive bidding process for the five parcels; it ends at noon Dec. 21. Public inspection will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 7, 8, and 14.

If this price isn’t right, marshals have the option to walk away from the sale, Wojdylo said.

Crundwell, 59, pleaded guilty last month to stealing more than $53.7 million in city funds over a 21-year period, while she was Dixon’s comptroller.

She faces up to 20 years in prison at her federal sentencing Feb. 14.

She also is charged with 60 counts of theft in Lee County, where she is accused of stealing more than $11 million in city funds since January 2010.

Several months before she pleaded guilty in federal court, Crundwell agreed to allow the sale of her properties, her herd of more than 400 prized quarter horses, her vehicles and other items.

Proceeds, minus costs, will be given to the city at the end of the case.

Although Wojdylo declined to say who made the offers on the properties, he did say they were from the region, and came from more than one person.

“We evaluated the offers to determine if they arrived in the competitive range of where we appraised the values at,” Wojdylo said. “This is nothing more than a starting point.”

Wojdylo said he expects a number of counteroffers. “All we needed was one person to start this process.”

Crundwell bought the Dutch Road property for $311,000 in December 2007 and took out mortgages for $240,000 that month and $100,000 in March 2010, according to documents released by the marshals.

Wojdylo declined to say how much she still owes, but the mortgages will be paid off from the proceeds of the sale. The buyer will be responsible for delinquent property taxes.

County records also show that Crundwell paid $270,000 in December 2002 and again in April 2011 for the Brick Road property, and $504,000 in July 2006 for the Lee County farmland.

There are no mortgages on those properties, Wojdylo said.

When selling real estate, marshals typically use a national real estate company they contract with to sell the properties. Its commission and closing costs come out of the proceeds. 

In this case, though, the marshals are fielding the bids themselves, to eliminate those costs to “maximize the return for the victim of the crime.”

Marshals will auction about 425 items seized from Crundwell’s Dixon and Florida homes Dec. 6-8. at www.professionalauction.com. The auction for the Florida items will close at 5 p.m. Friday, while the Dixon sale will close at 5 p.m. Saturday.

Several of Crundwell’s vehicles and boats are being auctioned at www.appletowing.com; that sale ends Dec. 6.

More online

Go to www.usmarshals.gov/assets/sales/crundwellrealproperties.htm to learn more about the Crundwell properties up for bid, and about the terms and conditions of the sale.

Go to www.professionalauction.com to see pictures of some of her personal items for sale through Dec. 8, and to learn about the terms and conditions of that sale. (For example, a refundable deposit of $100 will be required to register to bid.)

Marshals hope to have photos of all of the more than 400 items online by Friday.

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