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Date set to hear motion in Crundwell case

Published: Friday, March 8, 2013 3:05 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, March 8, 2013 3:07 p.m. CDT

DIXON – A motion to dismiss Rita Crundwell’s theft charges will be heard at a status hearing next month, a judge decided earlier this week.

Attorneys also agreed to have a conference with Judge Ron Jacobson to discuss plea negotiations.

The status hearing will be held April 1. A date has not been set for the conference.

Crundwell, wearing an orange jump suit, appeared in court via video feed from the Lee County Jail. She will remain in federal custody in the Boone County Jail until she is assigned to a prison.

Crundwell is indicted on 60 counts of theft of government property. The indictment accuses her of stealing more than $11 million. Each charge is punishable by 6 to 30 years in prison. If she is convicted, her sentence would run concurrently with her federal sentence.

Defense attorney Bob Thompson filed a motion to dismiss the local charges, citing possible double jeopardy.

State’s Attorney Anna Sacco-Miller said her office still is reviewing whether to pursue those charges, including analyzing the cost to proceed, among other things.

Crundwell was sentenced to 19 years, 7 months in prison on Feb. 14 after pleading guilty in November to federal wire fraud. She admitted to stealing nearly $54 million in city funds over two decades.

In his motion, Thompson said Crundwell’s plea agreement in her federal wire fraud charge included “acts and dates” also contained in the Lee County indictment.

Although theft and wire fraud are different charges, Crundwell admitted in the federal case to stealing nearly $54 million in city funds “from as early as” Dec. 18, 1990, until April 17, 2012, the day she was arrested at Dixon City Hall, Thompson wrote.

The Fifth Amendment has a double jeopardy clause that prohibits the government from prosecuting a person more than once for the same crime, or from imposing more than one sentence for the same crime. Each state has the same provision in its criminal code.

In his motion, Thompson argues that Illinois criminal code prohibits prosecutors from trying a defendant when the facts necessary to convict have been conclusively determined by a prior prosecution.

Thompson pointed to comments made by U.S. District Judge Philip Reinhard and Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Pedersen at Crundwell’s sentencing last week that the acts in the federal case are the same as those in the state case.

“The issue of ultimate fact, whether the defendant had the intent to defraud and deprive the city of Dixon permanently of its money, has been decided,” Thompson wrote.

Last week, Crundwell’s attorneys appealed her federal sentence.

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