As outlined in All the Queen's Horses, Rita Crundwell was employed as comptroller and treasurer of Dixon, Illinois from 1983 to 2012. It was eventually discovered that she had begun embezzling city funds in 1988. She was able to open and control a secret bank account, ostensibly under the city’s control, into which she transferred funds. The theft remained undetected in part because she moved the funds through multiple accounts. While she was on vacation in 2011, the acting comptroller detected the fraud by reviewing bank statements. The mayor of Dixon and other city officials must be considered partially responsible because of their negligence. They permitted a flawed system to operate, which facilitated Crundwell’s activities.
When the city showed losses, the government accepted her explanation at face value. Her autonomy derived from her combined roles as comptroller and treasurer, along with specific duties that facilitated her cover-up. For example, she picked up and sorted the city’s mail, allowing her to remove the bank statements for the secret account.
Top city officials remained ignorant of the secret account’s existence. The fact that city accounts could be opened by one person, who was also the sole signatory, also increased the chances of fraud. Most city officials never saw the city’s financial statements. Although the auditors technically belonged to an outside firm, they did not thoroughly review the documents that Crundwell prepared.