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Rita Crundwell, Ill. financial officer who allegedly stole $53 million, sentenced to 19.5 years in prison

This Nov. 2011 photo provided on April 18, 2012, by The American Quarter Horse Journal, shows Rita Crundwell, of Dixon, Ill., posing with Pizzazzy Lady at the 2011 American Quarter Horse Association World Championship Show in Oklahoma City. On Tuesday, April 17, 2012, FBI agents arrested Crundwell, the Dixon comptroller, on charges that she stole more than $3.2 million in public funds from the city of Dixon in just a matter of months. She also was accused of misappropriating more than $30 million since 2006 to finance a lavish lifestyle, including operating a horse farm. AP

Rita Crundwell at the American Quarter Horse Association World Championship Show in Oklahoma City, Okla., Nov. 2011. (Credit: AP Photo/American Quarter Horse Journal)
Rita Crundwell at the American Quarter Horse Association World Championship Show in Oklahoma City, Okla., Nov. 2011.
AP/American Quarter Horse Journal

(CBS/AP) ROCKFORD, Ill. - Former financial officer Rita Crundwell was sentenced  to 19 and 1/2 years in prison for embezzling more than $53 million from the northern Illinois city of Dixon, reports CBS affiliate WIFR.

PICTURES: Official stole millions to buy horses, say Ill. cops

She will reportedly be required to serve at least 17 years, but could get out early for good behavior.

Before Crundwell's was sentenced Thursday in Rockford federal court she gave a tearful apology to the city of Dixon, WIFR reports.

She pleaded guilty in November to wire fraud, admitting she stole the money from the city of Dixon while she was comptroller. She still faces 60 separate but related state felony charges for theft in Lee County. She has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

According to CBS affiliate WHBF, Dixon Mayor Jim Burke read a statement at the sentencing hearing, calling Crudwell's theft "a massive ripoff of public money." He argued she should get the maximum sentence.

Crundwell's public defender had asked for a lenient prison sentence, saying Crundwell has cooperated with investigators.

Complete coverage of Rita Crundwell on Crimesider

  • Casey Glynn

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