Thursday, February 14, 2013

Government Oversight and "Public Service"... Stealing $54 million from Fellow Taxpayers in Small Town Illinois

Willie Sutton robbed banks because, as he put it, that's where the money was.

So it was with one trusted local government employee when spending what used to be her fellow citizens' MOM. The local government's coffers contained a continuous stream of taxpayer money there for the taking. So she took it.

We're used to government officials wasting the money they collect from us, but occasionally that waste turns into theft. And over a long period of time, "a single dime," as President Obama likes to say, can turn into tens of millions of dollars taken from unsuspecting taxpayers.

And the government knows best gang often doesn't even notice it's missing even after the money has  long been gone.

Such was the case with the former local comptroller of small town Dixon, Illinois, boyhood home of Ronald Reagan.

Sentencing today for ex-Dixon comptroller in $54 million fraud has the details:

"Former Dixon comptroller Rita Crundwell is to be sentenced today for what authorities have called the largest municipal fraud in the country’s history.

Crundwell has pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $54 million from the small northwest town over more than two decades to fund a lavish lifestyle while the town's budget was awash in red ink.

Prosecutors have asked that Crundwell, 60, be sentenced to as much as 20 years in prison, citing the staggering losses the city sustained.

Crundwell’s attorney, Paul Gaziano, has asked the court to consider a lighter sentence. recognizing Crundwell’s cooperation with authorities after her arrest last April.

The sentence will be handed down by U.S. District Judge Philip Reinhard in Rockford after he hears from town officials about the impact of Crundwell's actions.

U.S. marshals have been working to recoup some of the losses to repay the town, best known as the boyhood home of President Ronald Reagan. So far, they have collected about $11 million from the sale of Crundwell's 400 horses, personal property, a luxury motor home and other vehicles.

Crundwell's legal woes won't end with the federal sentencing. She still faces 60 state charges of felony theft, each of which carries a potential sentence of up to 30 years in prison on conviction. That case is due back in court in Lee County on March 4."

Summing Up

Let's hope she gets what she deserves.

That said, whatever punishment is meted out, it won't undo the harm she did.

And it will never excuse the city officials and their auditors for not uncovering the fraud earlier or preventing it from happening in the first place.

That's my take.

Thanks. Bob.

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