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May 21, 2024

All the Queen’s Horses: The Rita Crundwell Story…

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On August 3, 2017

“How could one woman steal over $53,000,000 without anyone noticing?”

The largest municipal fraud case in the history of the United States, and not surprisingly it happened in Illinois, a breeding ground for corruption.

Dixon, Illinois, is a small community of a little over 15,000 people in Lee County.

Rita Crundwell, the comptroller and treasurer of Dixon, Illinois was convicted of stealing over $53 million, and she did it without anyone noticing.

“Go Horse Show” posted an article (here) on this movie stating the World Premier will be shown August the 9th.

In less than 2 min, hear Gordon Quinn (founder and artistic director of Kartemquin Films) discuss why everyone should see ALL THE QUEEN’S HORSES.

The Official Facebook page for this movie is located here:

The Official website for All The Queen’s Horses

“People just trusted her” – is what we see every place we go.

“We’ve always done it this way”

We would encourage everyone to see this documentary and apply its lessons learned to your own communities. You might be surprised.

The Journal of Forensic and Investigative Accounting has a paper online (click here) entitled “Horseplay in Dixon: Lessons Learned from the Rita Crundwell Fraud” – we encourage you to read it.

Comments I remember from news articles at the time: “She was a good person” – “She always donated her money to local charities” – The same things we hear everywhere we go.

And the most recent comments we have heard when exposing alleged illegal use of a city purchasing (credit) card: “It doesn’t take you from A to B to C” – “Clickbait” – “Doesn’t rise to the level of outrage” – “Save the outrage for a real story”. . .



We have spoken with many police investigators and attorneys, most of which say it starts on a small scale. Tank of gas here, meal there, cell phone or credit card payment here, car insurance there, airline ticket for my friend here, use of city backhoe there, and eventually it becomes routine and grows until it is unmanageable and they can no longer pay it back before it gets noticed. Once it gets to that unmanageable point, they are caught and there is no hope in recouping funds to the taxpayers.

Unfortunately, some local State’s Attorneys use their “prosecutorial discretion” and fail to prosecute these crimes at the local level, which means there is generally never a deterrent to committing these acts.

As for those unprosecuted crimes against the public: The public knows it happened, the public knows it did not get prosecuted, so the public becomes apathetic and loses trust in their local governments with the attitude of “There is nothing I can do about it” – or worse, they join the corrupt because that is the only way they can get ahead – the culture of acceptance.

Please watch the first 2 minutes of the below video where a United States Attorney, and school board member (now deceased), questions the auditor about acceptable auditing practices and the auditor confirms they are using a practice that IS NOT acceptable!


“Corruption changes the face of the community” –Patrick Fitzgerald.



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  • Danni Smith
    Posted at 22:09h, 03 August

    Jim Kraft-I warched this to 11:38 and continue watching-but I am missing the point. What is this supposed to be? And where is this? Ah, just heard Lincolnway-is this about the high school closed due to suspected corruption?

    • jmkraft
      Posted at 22:13h, 03 August

      It was all in the first 2 minutes. The board member asked if it was an acceptable auditing/accounting practice anywhere in the United States. The auditor said No, but that is how Illinois school boards get audited.

      It should have indicated to the board that there were major problems they were not looking at.

    • Danni Smith-same ole same ole-like NIU, CoD, Harper College-srealing from the tax payer
      Posted at 23:25h, 03 August

      Now I get it

  • Elizabeth Gruber
    Posted at 06:12h, 04 August

    Bloomington, an air ticket for a girlfriend, meals paid by taxpayers I see the trend here. Starts small and grows.

  • Melanie
    Posted at 07:18h, 04 August

    I have turned my volume up as high as it goes but I still cannot hear the school board video. Also, I checked the website out for the Queens Horses but could identify a place to view this Do we need to request a viewing or will it be in regular theaters? I also checked Fandango and it is not listed their either

  • Warren J. Le Fever
    Posted at 10:42h, 04 August

    Stealing from public body funds is something that goes on all over the country although I believe that the way laws and States Attorneys’ activites and auditing are, it’s easier in Illinois than elsewhere. Because of that, temptation to steal is harder to overcome. Trust is the byword of those who take money and “we trusted” is the byword of those who get taken..

  • helen
    Posted at 11:00h, 04 August

    so no one any idea she was stealing money to pay for her lifestyle? does the film get into the inadequate auditing of the city books? I know there was some kind criminal against the accounting firm.

    • Dixon, Just Passing Through
      Posted at 12:08h, 04 August

      The folks I know from the Dixon area who knew her thought that her horse business must have been doing very well, and they thought that rich people own horses. Of the folks I know, it did not occur to them that her lifestyle came from theft. They thought her money came from the horse business.

      It is ironic that the boyhood home of President Ronald “Trust, but verify” Reagan only did the trust part, but did nothing to verify. Had Rita not gone on vacation with a substitute who paid attention, her stealing might have lasted at least a little longer.

      What might be very useful to study is how did Dixon get by all those years operating on less money (because of what went missing). I know many projects ran on volunteer power and were low budget. Some of the roads and sidewalks looked a little aged but things still functioned. I spent a week there in 2010 for a conference, and many visits prior to that working on conference planning. It was a great little town then (when Rita’s stealing totaled quite a bit), with nice parks, museums, some public art, a tourism office, and a Petunia Festival. I am in Dixon about a dozen times a year now, and it is a nice place to visit.

      If more municipalities could curb spending like Dixon did (because they did not know how many millions of more dollars they were supposed to have), just think how much better shape we would all be in compared to unbridled spending.

      • Deborah
        Posted at 14:10h, 04 August

        Your last paragraph makes me wonder about Wheeling.

  • Danni Smith
    Posted at 17:12h, 04 August

    Lincolnway North closed as ordered by the royal elite-taxpayers voices ignored, again,no money found, board members resigned, one sold his home instantly and escaped, and nothing in sight for any satisfaction for the robbed taxpayers.