We’re All Lootie Now….

When you have a never-ending pattern of looting by various government-connected entities (like, for instance, banks) it’s not all that surprising that certain other people get the idea that this is a great way to make money.

Like, for instance, the accused finance officer for a small Illinois town:

Rockford, Ill. – The comptroller of Dixon was arrested and charged Tuesday for allegedly stealing more than $30 million in city funds since 2006 to furnish her lavish lifestyle, which included a horse farm, seven tractor-trailer trucks and a $2.1 motor home, according to a federal complaint.

Rita A. Crundwell, 58, of Dixon, was charged with one federal count of wire fraud filed last Friday in U.S. District Court of Rockford and unsealed Tuesday following her arrest.

Yeah.  The allegation — that she stole some $30 million over the years — is rather unbelievable given that the entire city’s annual budget is $20 million.  The town has about 16,000 residents and one has to wonder exactly how anyone manages to get that much cash out of the town without being noticed — and caught.

I have a number of questions such as “where were the audits?” and “you’re telling me that nobody looked at the bank statements for how long?

“Tens of billions of our tax dollars flow through 7,000 plus units of government in Illinois every year. And we can only watch a few of them,” said the association’s president, Andy Shaw. “Most of them don’t have inspector generals. Most of them don’t have auditor generals. Most of them don’t have watchdog groups looking closely. … It’s ripe for rip-offs.”

Riiiight.  This is not small potatoes.  And books always do balance; it’s a question of where did the flow go?  Someone has to look, of course, and it appears that nobody did, including the city Treasurer or any sort of external audit.

After all it’s not like the city does much cash business that can “disappear without a trace.”  Most people write checks for their various interactions with state and local government, and the rest frequently use credit cards.

It’s pretty amazing really; I just ran a little private company with a few million in annual revenues but we had an external accountant that came in and performed a decent look-see on the internally-kept books along with making sure we were complying with the tax laws.  The reason for such an independent look is obvious — it’s how you try to make sure nobody’s robbing you blind.

Embezzlement is nothing new, but the scale of this alleged scam is staggering.  Of the $3.2 million disbursed from city accounts since last fall it is claimed that only $74,274 was used for city operations; the rest is claimed to have been spent on the accused’s own expenses including $600,000 in online credit card payments, a new $67,000 truck and $450,000 spent on her horse farm!

Then again when you have financial institutions that have tuned looting the economy into an art form and none have been prosecuted does it surprise that others might try to emulate them?

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