By The Associated Press
CHICAGO - The longtime bookkeeper of a small Illinois city is expected to plead guilty to stealing more than $53 million in public money to finance her lavish lifestyle, including a nationally known horse-breeding operation.
Federal prosecutors say 58-year-old Rita Crundwell, the former comptroller of Dixon, is scheduled to enter the plea Wednesday in federal court.
Prosecutors alleged that since 1990, Crundwell used her modestly paid town hall job to steal from Dixon, where she'd overseen public finances as the city comptroller since the 1980s. Dixon is about 100 miles west of Chicago.
Mayor James Burke says a guilty plea would clear the way for U.S. marshals to start selling off millions of dollars of Crundwell's assets, including about $450,000 worth of diamonds and other jewels, ranch land and a Florida house.
Burke says it was the lingering federal case that tied up her assets. And he says he's "very pleased'' by her decision.
Crundwell is accused of bilking Dixon to fund a lavish lifestyle and a nationally renowned horse-breeding operation. Burke says her horses were sold earlier because she signed off on their sale.
Federal prosecutors say Crundwell is scheduled to change her plea to guilty Wednesday.