DIXON, Ill. — She’s back.
Former Dixon, Illinois comptroller Rita Crundwell, the woman responsible for the largest municipal fraud in American history is now back in the community she stole from, according to sources.
Crundwell pled guilty to stealing $54 million from the City of Dixon over two decades. She used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle that included jewels, furs, homes, horses and a $2 million recreational vehicle.
Residents of the north-central Illinois community best known as the boyhood home of President Ronald Reagan thought they had heard the last of Crundwell when a judge sentenced her to more than 19 years in federal prison.
Then, this summer, a shocker: The Federal Bureau of Prisons released Crundwell and refused to offer an explanation. She had only served half her sentence.
“Let’s face it: Rita Crundwell lived a life of lies for decades,” former US Marshal Jason Wojdylo said. He oversaw the sale of Crundwell’s ill-received gains.
Wojdylo visited Crundwell in prison as he attempted to catalog and sell her belongings.
“She conveyed to me more of a sense of disgust that she had been sentenced that long. She was very visibly shaken by the fact she was serving nearly a 20-year sentence,” Wojdylo said.
The Bureau of Prisons cited Crundwell’s privacy as the reason for not explaining her early release.
“I feel like she had the last laugh, she won,” DePaul University accounting professor Kelly Richmond Pope said.
Richmond Pope produced an award-winning Netflix documentary on the fraud.
“She lived like a queen for 20-plus years and only served eight years. You do the math. She sort of won,” Pope said.