The first 80 quarter horses belonging to alleged fraudster Rita Crundwell have sold for $US1.64 million.
Prices for the horses ranged from $US1050 to $US226,000 in the online auction. The top bid was attracted by five-time world champion I Execute Class. Pizzazzy Lady, also a five-time World Champion mare, fetched $US126,000. The gelding IE Copy, another world championship winner, fetched $US101,000.
About 400 of Crundwell’s quarter horses will ultimately be sold by auction.
Crundwell, 59, stands accused of siphoning off more than $US53 million from the coffers of Dixon, Illinois, over a 22-year period while she served as the city’s financial controller.
Federal authorities allege Crundwell used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle and her extensive quarter horse operation. She was one of the leading breeders of quarter horses in the US.
Civil action against Crundwell is running alongside the criminal prosecution in a bid to recover some of the money, the surplus from which will go to help reimburse Dixon for its alleged losses.
Some of the cash will be used to defray costs, with the care of Crundwell’s horse costing the US Marshals Service an estimated $US200,000 a month since her April arrest.
Another 300 of Crundwell’s quarter horses will be auctioned later this month at her Dixon ranch, where she ran a quarter horse breeding operation.
The horses are expected to bring in another $US3m to $US4m.
Efforts are also under way to sell her luxury motor home, with bidding currently at more than $US200,000.
Crundwell bought the motor home for $US1.575m in 2008 and authorities had originally hoped to get $US1m in a tender process.
Crundwell has pleaded not guilty to a single charge of wire fraud.