DIXON – A day after the arrest of Dixon’s top financial officer – who’s accused of stealing $30 million from city coffers – the mayor laid out a six-point plan to address the situation and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Rita A. Crundwell, 58, of Dixon was arrested Tuesday morning at work at Dixon City Hall, 121 W. Second St., the U.S. Attorney General’s Office said.
Prosecutors say Crundwell skimmed the $30 million over the past six years from a city with an annual corporate budget of about $7 million. (The corporate budget does not include the water and wastewater departments, which have their own revenue streams.)
She is charged with a single count of federal wire fraud, stemming from accusations that Crundwell wired $175,000 in city funds from a bank in St. Paul, Minn., to a bank in Cincinnati, Ohio, and faces up to 20 years in prison.
“We realized the main question is, how can someone allegedly steal $30 million and get away with it for so long?” Burke said in a five-minute prepared statement he read at a news conference this morning.
The city’s annual audit is prepared by two accounting firms, the mayor said. CliftonLarsonAllen LLC (formerly Clifton Gunderson) compiles the financial information, which is given to Samuel S. Card, CPA LLC, of Sterling, which reviews the information and issues the audit report.
Card has been doing the audit since 2006, Burke said in an interview after the news conference. CliftonLarsonAllen, then Clifton Gunderson, used to do both parts before recommending Card to do the report. The city council approved that decision.
As required by state law, the yearly audits were reviewed by the Illinois Comptroller’s Office and came back clean
The city will use a different firms in the future, as part of its effort to restore confidence, Burke said.
It also will continue to work with the FBI to use the proceeds from any assets seized to reimburse the city, hire an independent investigator to make sure no one else at the city was involved, establish an independent panel to make recommendations on what the city can do, and hire an interim comptroller.
Crundwell will be placed on administrative leave without pay, he said. That is pending a vote by the council, which had an emergency meeting Tuesday evening but could not take any action because there was not time for proper public notification.
Burke said the vote will take place “as soon as possible.”
Neither the mayor, Chief of Police Danny Langloss, who introduced him, or three of the four city commissioners present took any questions.
Law enforcement starting investigating the city’s finances after a red flag was raised by City Clerk Kathe Swanson, who took over some of Crundwell’s duties when Crundwell took an extended vacation.
Swanson, who has worked for the city for 21 years, requested all of the city’s bank statements and discovered a bank account the mayor said he didn’t know existed.
Burke reported their concerns to law enforcement.
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