Crundwell Horses, Equipment Fetch more than $4 million

Horses, tack, trailers, and other equipment belonging to indicted Quarter Horse breeder Rita Crundwell brought more than $4 million during a two-day live auction in Dixon, Ill.

Earlier this year, a federal grand jury in Illinois indicted Crundwell for allegedly misappropriating $53 million in funds from the town of Dixon, Ill., where she had served as comptroller since the 1980s. Federal law enforcement agents later arrested Crundwell and charged her with one count of wire fraud, to which Crundwell later pleaded not guilty. If convicted, Crundwell could face maximum penalties of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or an alternate fine totaling twice the cost of the loss or twice the gain, whichever is greater.

Following the arrest, a federal court judge placed more than 400 horses connected to the case in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. Professional Auction Services Inc. was later hired to carry out the sale of the horses and related equipment at auction. Earlier this month an online auction of 80 Crundwell horses realized $1.6 million.

On Sept. 23 and 24, another 400 horses along tack, trailers, and other equipment were sold during a live auction at Crundwell's farm in Dixon. U.S. Marshal’s Service Spokesperson Lynzey Donahue said that proceeds from the sale of the horses totaled $3,797,300. In addition, frozen semen proceeds totaled $98,500, and tack and equipment sales totaled $892,945. Meanwhile, Crundwell’s luxury motor brought $800,000 in an online auction that ended on Sept. 25.

Donahue said that net proceeds from the sales will be placed in escrow while Crundwell's case is pending. If Crundwell is convicted the proceeds from the sales will be given to the City of Dixon, Ill., as restitution, she said.

Dixon Mayor Jim Burke said that the $4.7 million derived from the live auction represents about 5% of the revenue the city lost though Crundwell’s alleged misappropriation. Just how much of the auction proceeds Dixon will realize is uncertain.

"The people of Dixon expected that there would be some restitution," Burke said. "The care of the horses have been costing (the federal government) about $200,000 a month, so we don’t know what the City will get on the horse sales."

As the Crundwell case continues, the auction of other assets is pending, Burke said. In the meantime, morale among Dixon residents is high, he said.

"It’s a complicated case, but most people who care about the community are looking ahead, and not at the past," said Burke.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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