10/1/2012 by Brian Costin Director of Government Reform
If Crundwell is found guilty where should the seized assets go? Back to public coffers or directly to the taxpayers of Dixon? Those are questions that should be asked in the case of Rita Crundwell, the city’s former comptroller, who has been indicted on embezzling over $53 million from taxpayers of Dixon. Allegedly, Crundwell used the money to finance her world renowned quarter-horse breeding program. Crundwell’s assets, including her farm and 300+ horses, were seized by federal authorities and ordered to be auctioned off to the public. Making national news again this week, a third auction of Crundwell’s seized assets occurred. The auctions being held by the U.S. Marshals Service have, so far, netted $7.2 million. Sales include $775,000 for three-time quarter-horse world champion “Good I Will Be", $98,500 for frozen horse semen, and $800,000 for a luxury motor home. Future auctions will focus on her other assets including jewelry, vehicles and land, with one 80 acre farm worth an estimated $800,000. The U.S. Marshals Service reports “the proceeds from the upcoming sale to be made available for restitution to the city of Dixon if the government prevails in its criminal and civil actions against Crundwell.” It may be years before the money becomes available again. Luckily, the city of Dixon has already benefited from increased revenue streams no longer being diverted by public corruption. It would benefit further from any money recovered from the Crundwell case. Another option would be to directly refund the money to the taxpayers of Dixon, potentially through a property tax refund. Which begs the question... Poll #1: In public corruption cases should recovered assets be refunded to bolster government budgets, or be refunded directly back to taxpayers? We’d like to hear from you and your friends. Register your vote on the Illinois Policy Institute’s Facebook page.