Last of ex- Dixon comptroller Rita Crundwell's quarter horses up for auction

September 24, 2012 (DIXON, Ill.)

Crundwell is accused of stealing millions of dollars from the town to support her lifestyle.

The star of the auction -- "Good I Will Be," or "Willy," as he's called at the Red Brick Road Ranch -- is headed to Canada. The three-time world champion sold for $775,000. He was one of hundreds of horses owned by Crundwell.

"This is the largest auction of this type we have done," Mike Jennings, co-owner, Professional Auction Services, Inc., said.

More than 400 horses, saddles, bridles, bits, trucks, trailers, barns, furniture, and frozen horse semen from a price breeding program, were sold. The entire ranch belongs to Crundwell, who is accused of stealing $53 million from the city coffers over the past 22 years.

"The fact that she was one of the leading breeders of quarter horses in the country, perhaps in the world, we've seen prices that make us very comfortable that we'll be able to recover some of the losses, not all -- but that is not atypical in a fraud case," Jason Wojdylo, U.S. Marshall's service, said.

If Crundwell is found guilty, Dixon will get the money from the auction. Many buyers know Crundwell. Tommy Sheets of New Albany, Indiana, is one of them. Sheets, who walked away with almost $2,000 worth of bridals and a horse, said Crundwell did a lot for the quarter horse industry. He believes it just became too much.

"I took it as a person that maybe has a hoarding disease, you know. I think she got into the hoarding of these horses and you know, just kept raising them and didn't know what to do with them and didn't want to sell them," Sheets said.

Crundwell has no choice but to sell the animals- and the rest of the farm, allegedly financed by the city of Dixon. Locals who came to check out the auction were amazed by how big the operation had become.

"I actually met her I think about a year and half ago, and shook her hand. After I walked out of here and saw her barn, I thought how the heck does she afford this stuff? Now we know," Deb Schulte, Dixon resident, said.

"The equipment, all the animals, the trucks, just everything. It was top of the line," Diane Stockton, Sterling resident, said. "And Dixon did it all."

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