Judge blocks vet clinic from Crundwell suit
ROCKFORD – A federal judge Friday rejected claims from a Rockford veterinary clinic that it should be allowed to intervene in a civil lawsuit seeking to sell 401 of Rita Crundwell’s horses.
Strathman Veterinary Services, which has worked with Crundwell for 10 years, says the former Dixon comptroller owes $52,274 in vet costs incurred in April for 67 of her horses in Illinois.
An attorney for the clinic argued Friday that while it has no liens or “security interests” in the horses, the continued care made the horses “increase in value.”
A security interest means an interest in property that exists by contract as security for payment or performance of an obligation.
Federal Magistrate P. Michael Mahoney didn’t buy it and denied the motion to intervene.
Simply providing services to the animals “doesn’t mean you can get in on a fraud claim,” Mahoney said.
Crundwell’s horses have been under the care of the U.S. Marshals Service since May 1, the same day prosecutors indicted her on a federal charge of wire fraud.
Prosecutors say Dixon’s longtime top financial officer misappropriated more than $53 million in city funds over two decades.
The horses and many other assets seized after her arrest April 17 are suspected to have been bought with fraudulent funds, according to prosecutors.
In June, Mahoney gave marshals the OK to sell Crundwell’s horses, many of which are at her Dixon ranch, and several related items. Neither Crundwell nor her attorneys objected.
An online auction will be held Sept. 11 and 12, and a live auction will be held Sept. 23 and 24 at Crundwell’s ranch on Red Brick Road.
Several parties already have filed as intervenors in the civil suit: horse breeders Brock and Kristi Allen of Allen Equine, and veterinarians A. Barry Wood and Hartman Equine Reproduction Center, all of Texas; and the Meri-J Ranch in Beloit, Wis.
They claim to have incurred costs of more than $150,000 in caring for her horses since marshals began overseeing their care.
On July 30, Katafiasz and its manager, Amanda Jackson, of Holland, Ohio, filed a claim in the case, saying Crundwell owed $6,597.66 for training, trimming, shoeing, and boarding five of Crundwell’s horses in Michigan. Invoices attached to the claim were dated April 1.
Earlier this week, Three Sisters Farm and its manager, Sarah W. Carhill, of Midway, Ky., filed a claim, saying Crundwell owed $1,265 for boarding and other services to one of Crundwell’s mares.
Those claims have not been heard. Crundwell will be in court Aug. 29 in her criminal case.