Former Dixon comptroller Rita Crundwell, who pleaded guilty in 2012 to what authorities then called the largest municipal fraud in the country’s history, was released from prison Wednesday — with about eight years left on her 19 ½-year prison sentence.
Crundwell, 68, was originally scheduled to be released on Oct. 20, 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. But she was released early from the Federal Corrections Institution in Pekin, Illinois, to a Chicago Residential Reentry Management field office, also known as a halfway house.
Crundwell had pleaded guilty on Nov. 14, 2012, admitting that she stole $53 million from the city since 1990 and used the money to finance her quarter horse farming business and lavish lifestyle, according to the FBI. In February 2013, a federal judge ordered her to immediately begin serving the sentence of 19 years and 7 months.
The town released a statement that Crundwell was to serve 85% of the sentence. But after hearing rumors of an early release, the City Manager Danny Langloss contacted the Federal Correctional Institution. A prison official confirmed to him that Crundwell had been released but did not know why.
In April 22, 2020, Crundwell had petitioned a federal judge for early compassionate release based on her poor health and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I have done everything in my power to be a ‘model inmate.’ To work as hard as I can and have never complained about my conditions here or the pay we receive,” Crundwell wrote. “There is never a day that goes by, I do not regret my crime.”
In response, on May 10, 2020, Langloss issued a letter on behalf of the city council strongly opposing an early release, according to the city’s statement. Crundwell then withdrew her request.
According to the motion to withdraw filed by Crundwell’s attorneys, Crundwell decided to pursue administrative appeal procedures through the Bureau of Prisons instead of continuing the process for a compassionate release through the courts.
“It is incredibly frustrating that Dixon was given no victim notification of Rita Crundwell’s release,” Mayor Liandro Arellano Jr. said in the statement. “Dixonites are still dealing with the social and financial aftermath of the damage she did, and our community deserved notice of and reasoning for this decision.”