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Crundwell returns not all in yet

Farmland, bank accounts to increase Dixon’s recovery

Published: Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014 1:15 a.m. CST
Caption
(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
Former Dixon Comptroller Rita Crundwell arrives for a hearing at the federal courthouse in Rockford on Aug. 29, 2012. Money from two bank accounts and from farmland partially owned by Crundwell still could be returned to the city of Dixon. Crundwell is serving a term of nearly 20 years in federal prison for stealing more than $53 million from the city over two decades.

DIXON – More money from the assets of former Comptroller Rita Crundwell are coming to Dixon.

Crundwell, who was arrested in 2012 for stealing nearly $54 million from the city over two decades, had a 20 percent interest in the Humphrey Family Partnership, which controls about 347 acres of farmland near Dixon, said Jason Wojdylo, chief inspector of the U.S. Marshals Service’s asset forfeiture division.

Two known Crundwell bank accounts also contained about $19,000 combined, he said.

Crundwell’s share of the farmland is now owned by the federal government, Wojdylo said, the result of her assets being seized soon after her arrest.

In September, Dixon settled a lawsuit with its former auditors and a bank for $40 million, and in December received $9.4 million from the auction of Crundwell’s assets, including her horses, real estate, and belongings.

After attorney’s fees from the lawsuit were deducted, the city has received $39.4 million in settlements and restitution.

For the past 2 years, each of the five shareholders of the land has received an income of $5,000, Wojdylo said, after the mortgage on the land and expenses were paid. 

Dixon has already received a $5,000 payment, he said, and the city could soon receive a second $5,000 payment, for the 2013 calendar year.

The family hires others to farm the land, Wojdylo said, adding that the acreage is spread out, not contained in a single 347-acre plot.

In theory, the federal government, and as a result Dixon, is entitled to 20 percent of the income for as long as the family partnership owns it. But Wojdylo said it’s likely the government will try to sell its share this year rather than staying involved and having an equal responsibility to maintain the land as a business asset.

But selling off the government’s share could be difficult because the land isn’t contained in a single lot and because the government has only one of five votes in the partnership.

Among its options, the government could put its share up for sale, Wojdylo said. He wasn’t sure what the interest in a one-fifth share of 347 spread-out acres would be.

The rest of the partnership could also buy out the government’s share, he said, or the government could transfer ownership of its interest to the city of Dixon.

If the rest of the partnership were going to buy the government’s one-fifth share, all 347 acres would be appraised, Wojdylo said, and the sale price would be set at a fifth of the total value.

Because the acreage isn’t a single parcel, its value can vary depending on soil type, among other factors.

Dixon also will eventually receive money from two other bank accounts, Wojdylo said, one containing about $18,000 and another with $1,000.

A transfer is underway for the $18,000 from an account Crundwell had at Dixon Federal Credit Union, said Randall Samborn, a U.S. attorney’s spokeman.

Money from the other account could take longer, Wojdylo said, because it had been willed to Crundwell as a transfer on death registration, which means more legal steps must be crossed.

The Marshals Service continues to look for other assets it can seize, Wojdylo said, and tries to identify whether more are available.

He said some money from a retirement fund could be seized as well.

After Crundwell’s 2012 arrest, documents taken from City Hall showed personal loan agreements that Crundwell had made with Dixon Fire Chief Tim Shipman and his wife and with former City Engineer Shawn Ortgiesen and his wife.

On Friday, Samborn said he had no new information about the loans and that the matter was still pending. That also was the case in June 2013.

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