Former Dixon Comptroller sentencing today

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Former Dixon Comptroller Rita Crundwell faces sentencing Thursday, after stealing more than $53 million from the small northwest town.

Crundwell, 60, pleaded guilty to a single felony count of wire fraud, which calls for no more than 20-years in prison. But prosecutors want more, in a case which ranks as one of the country’s greatest examples of fraud.

According to the Chicago Tribune, in the early years, prosecutors said Crundwell annually stole a few hundred thousand dollars, but by the late 1990s, as her quarter-horse business expanded and gained national attention, the thefts exploded, growing to more than $1 million in 1999, then nearly doubling to $2 million the next year.

Crundwell still faces 60 state charges of felony theft, each of which carries a potential sentence of up to 30 years in prison on conviction.

That case is due back in court in Lee County on March 4.