Six Crundwell Horses Die

Six of the more than 300 Quarter Horses connected to the federal case against accused embezzler Rita Crundwell have died, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service said. The deaths occurred between May and July at different locations around the country.

In April Federal Bureau of Investigation agents arrested high-profile Quarter Horse breeder Rita Crundwell and charged her with one count of wire fraud after a federal grand jury in Illinois returned an initial indictment accusing Crundwell of misappropriating $30 million in funds from the town of Dixon, Ill., where she had served as city comptroller since the 1980s. Further investigation resulted in an expanded indictment accusing Crundwell of allegedly misappropriating a total of more than $53 million from Dixon over the course of more than 20 years. Crundwell later pleaded not guilty to the wire fraud charge.

In May the government filed a civil lawsuit alleging that Crundwell's 311 registered Quarter Horses were subject to civil forfeiture because she purchased and/or maintained them with criminal fraud proceeds. The horses, including foals born this spring, were subsequently placed under U.S. Marshals Service jurisdiction, and contractors were hired to manage the animals until they could be sold at auction with proceeds applied to Dixon's restitution.

On July 19, U.S. Marshals Service spokesman Jason Wojdylo said that between May 3 and July 5 six of the Crundwell horses, most of them foals, had died of various causes. All were under veterinary care, he said.

"Of the foals, one died of bacteria in the blood, another from pneumonia, the rest from a combination of heat and a heart murmur, and renal failure," he said. "Another horse that was not a foal died of colic and a 26-year-old horse died of kidney failure."

Wojdylo said the surviving horses remain under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Marshals Service until they are sold at auction. The agency could award an auction contract for the horses' sale within the next two weeks, Wojdylo said.

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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