DIXON, Ill. (AP) -- Former Dixon comptroller Rita Crundwell has pleaded not guilty to charges she siphoned millions of dollars in public funds into a secret bank account.
Crundwell on Wednesday appeared before Lee County Circuit Judge Ronald Jacobson for her arraignment on to 60 counts of theft tied to her alleged embezzlement of $53 million from the city's accounts. The case is separate from the federal case in Rockford in which Crundwell is charged with a single count of wire fraud.
Crundwell is suspected of stealing the money over two decades and using it to sustain a lavish lifestyle and a nationally renowned horse-breeding operation.
Federal authorities have auctioned off items Crundwell allegedly obtained with city funds. If Crundwell is convicted, the U.S. Marshal's Service and Dixon will get the money.
Rita Crundwell was in Lee County Court today for her arraignment, less than a mile away from city hall, where she was comptroller and allegedly stole $53 million of taxpayer money.
Crundwell entered the courtroom with the county public defender Bob Thompson by her side. Again, this was her first day in court facing state charges. Judge Ronald Jacobson read the indictment, which includes 60 counts of theft. They cover 60 transactions Crundwell allegedly made between January of 2010 and April of this year. This was Dixon Mayor Jim Burke's first time seeing Crundwell since she was arrested in April.
"We want to make sure she's incarcerated for a long time, as tragic as it is. When you think about the amount of money and the amount of heartache she's caused the community and everyone in it, she should pay for that,” said the Mayor.
Mayor Burke says he believes Crundwell has been staying in Wisconsin with her long-time boyfriend. She will be in state court again on December 19th for a pre-trial conference, and she'll be in federal court on November 14th.
Crundwell’s property, which includes several homes, furniture, and other items, will be auctioned off. The U.S Marshals service says there will be an auction at her former home on Route 52 in Dixon within the next month or so. They hope to have that done by December 8th.