WGN Investigates has obtained a letter asking for a prison release written by the woman responsible for the single biggest theft of public money in the state’s history.
Former Dixon Comptroller Rita Crundwell admits she stole more than $50 million from the northwestern Illinois community. She is now asking for release from prison due to a “detoriateing health condition” during the coronavirus pandemic.
Crundwell, 67, has never spoken publicly about her crime outside of the tear-filled admission of guilty she made in a courtroom.
The judge sentenced her to nearly 20 years in prison. She’s served seven.
“With my deteriorating health condition and the danger of the COVID-19 pandemic, I feel like I have been given a death sentence,” she wrote.
The former horse breeder said she has kidney and hip trouble.
Crundwell said she’s known as a ‘model prisoner’ who has worked in the kitchen, as a seamstress and given positions of trust.
She is now serving her time at the federal prison camp in Pekin, Illinois, which currently has no confirmed COVID cases.
Danny Langloss is now the city manager of Dixon.
He acknowledges Crundwell helped sell her horse empire to recoup some of the costs of her crimes, but said after legal fees and settlements with auditors, Dixon only recovered 40 of the 53 million dollars she stole.
“It’s taken a long time,” Langloss said. “And we have had to rebuild this great community, the trust and confidence of our community. For her to get released early would destroy that trust and confidence in our entire system.”
Crundwell said she could live at her brother’s farm back in Dixon.
“My crime does not pose a danger to the community. If I am granted home confinement, I will be very low-keyed. I am going to do everything possible to make up for my mistakes,” she wrote.
Langloss doesn’t hope she is released.
“As a community, we stand united against any early release of Rita Crundwell,” he said. “I’ve got to be honest with you, it is reprehensible that she would ever consider showing her face in our great community ever again.”