DIXON – The city inched a little closer Tuesday to recouping a portion of the millions of dollars prosecutors say was stolen by its former comptroller, Rita Crundwell, over the last two decades.
After a nearly monthlong online auction, the U.S. Marshal's Service accepted a $800,000 bid for her decadent 2009 Liberty Elegant Lady Coach – from the RV company itself.
Liberty Coach sold Crundwell the RV for $2.1 million in July 2008. Vice President Frank Konigseder declined to comment Tuesday on the buy-back.
Minus the money still owed on the RV, and the auctioneer's commission, the sale made a profit of roughly $342,000.
The city will get that money if Crundwell is convicted of federal wire fraud.
Prosecutors say she misappropriated more than $53 million since 1990, and used the money to pay for her prize quarter horse breeding and showing operation and the luxury appointments that went with it – horses worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, her ranch and other properties, a small fleet of vehicles, even a diamond-encrusted saddle.
She also is charged with 60 counts of theft in Lee County.
Liberty Coach's high bid was $765,030 at the close of the online auction, but that number was rejected by the U.S.
Marshals Service, said Jason Wojdylo, chief inspector for the its asset forfeiture division.
Through negotiations, the company agreed to pay the $800,000 maximum bid set during the auction, Wojdylo said.
"I think the process proved that it was the highest we can get," Wojdylo said. "Of course, I'm not necessarily happy that [Crundwell] paid $2.1 million and we were only able to achieve $800,000, but I can't control market conditions."
Crundwell still owes Bank of America about $434,000, which doesn't include any penalties the bank may impose for nonpayment since her April 17 arrest, Wojdylo said.
The bank had not filed a claim in the case as of Tuesday.
Marshals first tried to sell the motor home through a sealed bid process that required a minimum bid of $1 million.
The only bid received was $750,000, not from Liberty Coach, Wojdylo said.
This time, there was no minimum bid, and the online auction seemed to generate a good amount of buzz – 76 bids were received between Sept. 4 and Tuesday, and the website had 24,219 page views.
Texas-based Apple Towing Co., which the marshals hired to sell the RV, will get a 3 percent commission, about $24,000, from the sale.
The sale comes on the heels of a 2-day live auction in which Crundwell's prized quarter horses, tack, trucks, trailers and other items, and a previous online auction of 80 horses, which together netted nearly $6.43 million.
By the numbers
The net proceeds from assets sold so far are:
– Horses (online and live auctions): $5,438,500
– Frozen horse semen: $98,500
– Tack and equipment, including trucks and trailers: $892,945
– Motor home: $800,000