Rita Crundwell, a high-profile breeder of champion Quarter Horses, is facing federal charges for allegedly misappropriating millions of dollars in municipal funds while serving as comptroller for a small town in Illinois.
Crundwell is the owner of the Meri-J Ranch in Beloit, Wis., and operates another horse farm in Dixon, Ill. Jim Bret Campbell, director of marketing and publications for the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), said that Crundwell earned Leading Breeder Award honors at eight AQHA World Championship Shows. She was a member in good standing of the AQHA, but never served as a director or in any other leadership position for the organization, Campbell said.
Assistant United States Attorney Joseph C. Pedersen said Crundwell was appointed to her $80,000 annual salaried position as comptroller of Dixon, Ill., in the early 1980s. As comptroller, Crundwell handled all the city’s finances, he said. On April 17, FBI agents arrested Crundwell for allegedly defrauding the city of Dixon of $3.2 million in funds just since the fall of 2011. In all, prosecutors accuse Crundwell of misappropriating more than $30 million in city revenue between 2006 and 2012. She is charged with one count of wire fraud, Pedersen said.
Crundwell was unavailable for comment.