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Former Dixon Comptroller Rita Crundwell was sentenced today to 235 months in prison — about 19 1/2 years behind bars — for stealing nearly $54 million from the city.

A Federal Judge in Rockford also sentenced Crundwell to 3 years probation and ordered her to pay over $53 million in restitution.

The judge revoked her bond and ordered her to be taken into custody immediately, saying not only could she be a flight risk but that he feared there could be retaliation against her.

Crundwell spoke briefly before she was sentenced.  Through her tears she said she was sorry and that the city of Dixon were her family and friends.

The scandal was exposed last April.  Crundwell pleaded guilty in November to wire fraud and admitted that over 20 years she stole close to $54 million from the small city of Dixon to finance her lavish lifestyle of big homes, championship horses, extravagant parties, luxury cars and high-end jewelry, all while telling city officials there was no money in the city coffers — essentially that the city was broke and that they could not take care of essential services.

Her attorney tried to argue for leniency, saying that she admitted her guilt right away, cooperated with authorities and sold off possessions to make restitution.  But the judge was not buying it.

There were a number of family and friends in the court, as well as Dixon city officials.

In the end, the judge told Rita Crundwell she was going away for a very, very long time, and to have a good day.

Crundwell’s attorney asked the judge to recommend to the Bureau of Prisons that Crundwell be sent to a facility close to Beloit, Wisconsin.  The judge said he would make that recommendation.