In the latest news on forfeiture efforts regarding disgraced Dixon ex-Comptroller Rita Crundwell, we see, once again, the handiwork of the federal government on behalf of its citizens.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Philip Reinhard issued a judgment to transfer ownership of a nearly $200,000 debt from Crundwell to the U.S. government. The money is owed by former City Engineer Shawn Ortgiesen and his wife to Crundwell. The Ortgiesens now owe the money to the federal government, which upon repayment, will give the money to the city.
Federal lawyers also argued successfully, and the federal judge concurred in a ruling last week, that about $90,000 in retirement fund reimbursements owed to Crundwell be turned over to the Clerk of the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois. The money will be turned over to the city.
In addition, the same federal judge issued turnover orders in December for insurance policy refunds, a bank account, and trust programs worth a total of $38,500.
A motion has been filed by federal attorneys to seize about 700 trophies that Crundwelll won during horse competitions, show clothing, and other items. Crundwell's stake in a family trust is another asset the federal government seeks to acquire, liquidate, and apply to the court-ordered restitution.
Actually, federal officials have been involved with the Crundwell case from the beginning, when Dixon Mayor Jim Burke called in the FBI in 2011 to investigate a heretofore unknown city bank account controlled by Crundwell.
FBI investigators built their case, then about half a year later, in April 2012, arrested Crundwell at City Hall and charged her with wire fraud. Further investigations revealed her theft from the city over two decades of nearly $54 million.
As federal prosecutors pursued justice, the U.S. Marshals Service catalogued and liquidated much of Crundwell's property. The service eventually presented the city with about $9.2 million, which was applied to the court-ordered restitution. She still owes more than $44 million to the city.
We believe the federal judge is correct to order the forfeiture of Crundwell's remaining assets so that the Dixon residents whom she victimized will receive the maximum restitution possible.
Perhaps an argument could be made that when Crundwell gets out of federal prison in 17 some years, she will need money to live on.
But that argument pales in comparison to the absolute enormity of her thefts.
Crime isn't supposed to pay.
Crundwell's crime was a doozy.
That's why she must be forced to continue to pay, through forfeiture, as much restitution as possible.
A legion of federal officials – investigators, prosecutors, U.S. Marshals, judges, court officials – has served Dixon well throughout the Crundwell saga.
Oh, and the feds are also putting her up in federal prison in Minnesota during her 19-year, 7-month term.
Think about that the next time someone knocks the federal government.