Former Dixon comptroller serving federal prison sentence seeks compassionate release

Published: May. 10, 2020 at 4:09 PM CDT
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Former Dixon comptroller Rita Crundwell, convicted of embezzling nearly $54 million from the city, is asking for a compassionate release from federal prison.

On April 22, she wrote an eight-page letter to Judge Philip G. Reinhard seeking to be released because of concerns of the coronavirus.

"I know at my sentencing, you felt I was not given a death sentence with my projected age at release of 77, but now with my deteriorating health condition and the danger of the COVID-19 pandemic, I feel like I have been given a death sentence," Crundwell wrote.

Crundwell was arrested at City Hall in 2012.

In February 2013, she was sentenced to 19 years and 7 months, nearly the 20-year maximum, in federal prison for stealing millions from the city over two decades.

The Department of Justice said at the time that Crundwell’s crime "is believed to be the largest theft of public funds in state history."

In a sentencing memorandum filed in February 2013, Judge Philip G. Reinhard wrote, "Ms. Crundwell was able to use that position to obtain control of in excess of fifty-three million dollars belonging to the Dixon. Over the period of time that she diverted funds from Dixon, Ms. Crundwell used those funds for her personal expenses and to expand her business relating to the raising, training, and marketing of horses. Ms. Crundwell at the time of her arrest had approximately 400 horses located in various locations in the country."

Crundwell was ordered to serve at least 85 percent of the sentence. There is no parole in the federal prison system.

Crundwell is serving her sentence at the Federal Prison Camp in Pekin, IL. Her release date, according to the Bureau of Prisons, is Oct. 20, 2029.

In her letter, Crundwell referenced a letter from Attorney General William Barr, which laid out six criteria for home confinement.

The criteria she referenced are age and vulnerability of inmate due to the coronavirus, security level, conduct in prison, inmate's score under "female pattern score," inmate has demonstrated and verifiable re-entry and the Inmate's crime of conviction or danger posed.

"I am now 67 years old with several health issues including chronic hypertension, high cholesterol, chronic pain from severe scoliosis and a pinched sciatic nerve in lower back causing constant pain and numbness to my toes,” she wrote.

"I currently only have 56 percent usage of my kidney usage due to the large amounts of ibuprofen I was prescribed for the four years by the doctor in Waseca, MN for chronic pain I suffered with my hip and lower back pain."

Crundwell wrote she meets the criteria for home confinement because she is currently located in a low-security facility and that her conduct in prison over the last seven years has been "exemplary.”

She wrote her score under "female pattern score" is a minimum in both categories and said, "my score is almost the best score allowed."

She claims in the letter she has demonstrated and verifiable re-entry plan that "will prevent recidivism and maximize public safety, including verification that the conditions under which the inmate would be confined upon release would present a lower risk of contracting COVID-19 than the inmate would face in his or her BOP facility."

Crundwell wrote she would be released to her brother, Richard Humphrey, and stay in his home outside of city limits. "He lives by himself and would be able to provide transportation for me as well as any other support I might need. I will apply for social security and Medicare."

Crundwell wrote to the judge her crime does not pose a danger to the community and said she will be very “low-keyed” if she is granted home confinement.

"I am going to do everything possible to make up for my mistakes," she wrote. "I have taken responsibility for my actions since the first day."

Crundwell further wrote that she will live with her brother at his farm outside Dixon city limits if released on home confinement.

According to an amended federal statute, a defendant may file a motion with the court for a compassionate release after a “defendant has fully exhausted all administrative rights to appeal a failure of the Bureau of Prisons to bring a motion on the defendant’s behalf or the lapse of 30 days from the receipt of such a request by the warden of the defendant’s facility.”

Crundwell noted in her letter that she had filed a request for compassionate release with the prison warden.

In an order filed April 29, Reinhard wrote the federal defender’s office has been appointed to represent Crundwell in the matter and directed the office to file a supplement to her motion by May 15.

Prosecutors will then have until June 5 to file a response, according to the order.