DIXON, Illinois — Former Dixon comptroller Rita Crundwell, who was convicted of committing one of the largest government embezzlements in U.S. history, still earns thousands of dollars a year in breeder royalties from show horses she no longer owns, according to federal officials.
Crundwell is serving a nearly 20-year prison sentence for swindling almost $54 million from the northern Illinois city. U.S. Marshals have seized much of her estate to pay restitution for the city, and now they're working on getting the $13,000 to $14,000 she's received annually since she was imprisoned, said Jason Wojdylo, the Marshals' chief inspector of the Asset Forfeiture Division.
"As long as those horses are alive and showing, she'll be entitled to receive royalties," Wojdylo said.
The government already has frozen the money, but it still doesn't have access to it, the Dixon Telegraph (http://bit.ly/1IO3dv4 ) reported. Federal officials plan to divert the royalties from Crundwell to the city of Dixon.
A "breeders' trust" typically is set up by horse associations, making it possible for breeders to collect proceeds even if they won't own a winning show horse, and allowing them to earn money as a "subscriber" -- a person who resisters a stallion to sire foals -- or as a "nominator" -- a person who previously owned a foal that eventually earns money.
Trust funds vary depending on the horse association, according to Candy Jebavy, director of the American Paint Horse Association's breeders' trust, which pays annual royalties to Crundwell.
If (show horses) have earned points, you can earn money back from the trust for those points," Jebavy said. "It's an incentive program for people to put their horses in. It pays back the nominator and the subscriber."
Crundwell was a top-10 earner as a nominator every year after she started her prison sentence, American Paint Horse Association earning statistics show.
Billy Smith, the association's executive director, expects Crundwell horses will continue to generate money for years.
"It should start to diminish over time," Smith said. "But these horses can show into their 20s in some cases."
The government also is seeking leads for the public regarding other outstanding Crundwell assets, Wojdylo said.
Information from: Dixon Telegraph, http://www.saukvalley.com