by RMHP Staff
Rita Crundwell may ride into your town in an upcoming documentary exploring the pink-collar criminal. The former quarter horse breeder siphoned more than $53 million from the small town of Dixon, Illinois during her career as comptroller. The stolen funds financed Crundwell’s opulent horse show lifestyle while the town was in “dire financial straits.”
An expert in forensic accounting, Kelly Richmond Pope, Ph.D., CPA, began interviewing Dixon residents immediately after Crundwell’s April 2012 arrest for All The Queen’s Horses: The Rita Crundwell Story.
Pope researches white-collar criminals and helps organizations understand, identify, and prevent fraud. “These are average everyday people, not con-artists. Most started because it was an honest mistake, but then the error turns to opportunity,” says Pope.
Crundwell’s “opportunity” began as early as 1988, according to authorities. Prosecutors presented evidence that she stole at least $25,000 from a separate Dixon bank account for its Sister City program between 1988 and 1990 before the charged fraud scheme began.
Officials say Crundwell’s theft is the largest municipal fraud in our country’s history. Many have asked, “how can one person embezzle $53 million and no one miss the money?” Pope says Crundwell knew she had absolute control and no one overseeing her. There were also no checks and balances in place. “Internal controls are critical in any industry.”
Pope says one of the most impactful pieces of the documentary surrounds Crundwell’s horses – specifically, when Good I Will Be is auctioned. “Besides the fact that many of Rita’s horses had names that eluded to the fact that she was stealing money, these horses in many ways were representative of the innocent residents of Dixon.”
“Watching this on T.V. you never think this is going to happen in your own hometown,” said one resident.
Crundwell is locked up in Minnesota, but her attorney is appealing her almost 20-year federal prison sentence.
All The Queen’s Horses: The Rita Crundwell Story is in the post production phase of development. Pope says she intends to secure funding for a network broadcast of the film.