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Crundwell Appeals Sentence, Lawyer Claims Dixon Residents 'Not Victims'

DIXON, Ill. (AP) -- An attorney for the former Dixon comptroller, who was convicted of stealing nearly $54 million from the northern Illinois city, is appealing her nearly 20-year federal prison sentence.

Among his arguments, Rita Crundwell's attorney, Paul Gaziano, said in a Wednesday filing that the citizens of Dixon shouldn't consider themselves victims. Crundwell was sentenced for wire fraud in Rockford federal court this February. She was taken into custody immediately.

"The residents of Dixon are not the victims of this crime. Admittedly, they do have an interest in the affairs of Dixon, but they are not victims," Gaziano wrote, according to The Telegraph in Dixon.

The attorney argued that letters sent to the court from Dixon residents "do not amount to a showing of the harm contemplated."

Gaziano also argued that the U.S. District Court in Rockford abused its discretion because it didn't do enough to factor in Crundwell's cooperation with investigators. He wrote that Crundwell's sentence was four years longer than recommended by federal sentencing standardization guidelines. Crundwell's sentence is six months less than the maximum possible sentence.

Crundwell, who was Dixon's longtime bookkeeper, admitted in November that she stashed public money in a secret bank account for about two decades and used it to fund her lavish lifestyle and her renowned horse-breeding operation. The money went toward everything from expensive horse trailers and luxury motor homes to jewelry and birthday bashes in Venice Beach, Fla.

It ranks as one of the worst abuses of public trust in the state's corruption-rich history.

Prosecutors have until Aug. 9 to respond to Gaziano's motion. Then Gaziano can reply to prosecutors by Aug. 23.

Crundwell is in a federal prison in Waseka, Minn. Her release date is March 5, 2030.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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