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Sentencing today for ex-Dixon comptroller in $54M fraud

Published: Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 10:01 a.m. CST

(MCT) — Former Dixon comptroller Rita Crundwell is to be sentenced today for what authorities have called the largest municipal fraud in the country’s history.

Crundwell has pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $54 million from the small northwest town over more than two decades to fund a lavish lifestyle while the town's budget was awash in red ink.

Prosecutors have asked that Crundwell, 60, be sentenced to as much as 20 years in prison, citing the staggering losses the city sustained.

Crundwell’s attorney, Paul Gaziano, has asked the court to consider a lighter sentence. recognizing Crundwell’s cooperation with authorities after her arrest last April.

The sentence will be handed down by U.S. District Judge Philip Reinhard in Rockford after he hears from town officials about the impact of Crundwell's actions.

U.S. marshals have been working to recoup some of the losses to repay the town, best known as the boyhood home of President Ronald Reagan. So far, they have collected about $11 million from the sale of Crundwell's 400 horses, personal property, a luxury motor home and other vehicles.

Crundwell's legal woes won't end with the federal sentencing. She still faces 60 state charges of felony theft, each of which carries a potential sentence of up to 30 years in prison on conviction. That case is due back in court in Lee County on March 4.

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