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State Charges Dropped Against Ex-Dixon Comptroller

Rita Crundwell

In this May 7, 2012 file photo, Rita Crundwell, former comptroller for Dixon, Ill., leaves federal court in Rockford, Ill. (Robert Ray/AP)

Prosecutors have dropped state charges against former Dixon comptroller Rita Crundwell, who has already admitted in federal court that she stole nearly $54 million in public money.

The Quad-City Times reports that Lee County State's Attorney Anna Sacco-Miller dropped the 60 counts of felony theft during a hearing Tuesday in Lee County Circuit Court.

Crundwell was sentenced in federal court in February to nearly 20 years in prison.

Tuesday's hearing involved state criminal charges and is separate from the federal case. She has pleaded not guilty in the state case.

The drop in state charges will not impact her lengthy prison sentence.

Sacco-Miller said she decided to drop state charges because a second trial after Crundwell's conviction in federal court would not result in additional jail time or restitution.

Crundwell's attorney in the state case had argued that subjecting her to another trial could amount to double jeopardy.

For more than two decades, Crundwell siphoned off millions from the small northern Illinois city of Dixon. She spent the money on her nationally renowned horse-breeding operation and her lavish lifestyle.

Meanwhile, legislation inspired by the Rita Crundwell scandal could soon see activity in the Illinois Senate.

A trio of bills drafted in response to her arrest recently cleared the House. They call for tougher penalties and more oversight of local government finances.

State Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) played an active role in advancing the measures through the lower chamber.

"There's some local governments out there doing an excellent job of detecting these things and reviewing these things," Demmer said. "Bot a lot of times it takes a wake-up call in order to get people to rethink the processes they have and maybe look for opportunities to improve those."

One of the bills would require counties and municipalities to create a committee to review certain financial activity. The measure could be considered by a Senate committee as early as Wednesday.

Some officials at the local level say such a requirement might be redundant. But Demmer said this is a way to encourage local governments, who haven't updated their review policies in a while, to bolster their oversight.

Categories: Criminal Justice