Thursday April 17, 2014
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FInancially, that is.
I just read a news story that is of no interest to you and me except for an intriguing possibility.
The story was about Dixon, Illinois.
I was struck by the close resemblance between Dixon and Payson.
Check these numbers:
Dixon population: 15,733
Payson population: 15,407
Dixon housing units: 6,138
Payson housing units: 5,832
Dixon area: 16.8 sq mi
Payson area: 19.5 sq mi
Dixon median income: $35,720
Payson median income: $33,638
A lot alike, aren't they?
But Dixon has one thing Payson hasn't got:
Rita Crundwell, town financial officer.
Rita is charged with stealing more than $53 million from the town and using it to buy:
• Two houses in Dixon.
• A home in Florida (Dixon's winters are cold).
• A $2.1 million motor home (to get from Dixon to Florida?).
• Several trucks.
• Several trailers.
• Pieces of motorized farm equipment.
• A pontoon boat
• Several cars (including a 1967 Chevrolet Corvette roadster).
• A horse farm.
• $224,000 found in two bank accounts
• 311 registered quarter horses
• Dozens of foals expected to be born this spring (well, with all those quarter horses!).
The way I figure it? If someone can steal $53 million from a small town the size of Payson over in Illinois, why can't someone here do the same thing?
After all, we are every bit as clever as that bunch over there in Illinois; people here love fancy motor homes, trucks, and trailers; everybody and his brother has a boat; you can't turn around without seeing a classic car some weekends; and no one can say we don't like horses.
Hey! We could use $53 million right now. I say we start checking the books.
What have we go to lose?
Interesting story, Tom. I would think that the town in Illinois would have an auditor whose job it is to keep the funds going only where voters approve. Does Payson have an auditor? Do we ever examine the books thereof? We have $53 million, or more, to lose if funds are purloined by some greedy town employee.
You ask some interesting questions, Fred. I find it hard to imagine how anyone in the government of a town the size of Payson could conceivably have gotten away with that amount of money. I know that she was the financial officer, but surely someone would have noticed some disparity in the flow of funds. $53 million? How could hide such a thing?
I don't seriously suggest that Payson has a problem. What struck me about all this was the fact that the town was so much like Payson in size. Think about it. If a town has only 15,000 people in it, and $53 million is missing, that's $3,500 each, counting men, women, and children, or almost $9,000 per household. That's a lot of tax money. How the devil could she have done it?
And how could she have conceivably imagined that she would get away with it?
Over what period of time was she doing this? If it was 25yrs. then that would be just over 2mil. per year. That still would be amazing.
According to news reports, this was happening since about 1990. So about 21 years. My guess is they must have some huge taxes to support the town since she evidently was able to get away with it. It appears that no one ever complained about not receiving town services. In other words the town was missing around 2.5 million a year and nobody noticed? Of course, Rita is pleading not guilty. Go figure.
You called it, Rex. 21 years. Wow! It makes you wonder why she didn't quit while she was ahead.***
And you're right, Tim. Even $2.5 million a year is incredible in a town the size of Payson. Just think of what Payson, or any small town, could do with an extra $2.5 million a year.
"Rita is pleading not guilty."
She's pleading not guilty? Why? She must be crazy. What is she going to do? Say she spirnkled dragon's teeth over a pasture and quarter horses sprang up?
Come to think of it, why do people ever plead not guilty when a prosecutor has them dead to rights? It would seem to me that you could make SOME kind of plea bargain, something that would at least cut your time in prison by a few years, or maybe cut the size of your fine. Why not grab it?
*** As I typed..."why she didn't quit while she was ahead," I thought of an old joke.
An American drunk walks into a gin mill in Haiti, goes up to the bar, orders a drink, turns to one side, sees a guy dressed in feathers and skins, and laughs.
The bartender leans over taps him on the should and whispers, "I would not do that if I were you, sir. He is a well known shaman."
The drunk looks over that the shaman and says, "You don't fool me, buddy. I know you're a phony, just like all the rest of your kind."
The bartender says, "Sh-h-h-h!!" and the shaman quietly sips his drink, ignoring the drunk, so the drunk gets even more obnoxious.
He looks over and says, "Hey, you big phony! If you can do something, go ahead and do it!"
The shaman takes out a small set of beads, shakes them, and the drunk turns into a midget.
"Big man!" squeaks the midget. "Big man! Is that the best you got?"
The shamans shakes the beads again. The midgets right arm drops off.
"That ain't nothin! I see better than that a Boy Scout tally."
Beads. Shake. Bingo. Off goes the left arm.
"Ya big phony. Ya creep! You got nothin. Nothin! I did that one when I was in my crib!"
Beads. Double shake. The whole midget disappears except for his head.
"Phony. BS artist! Faker! Flash in the pan. If you think...."
The bartender leans over. "If I were you sir, I'd quit while I was a head."
Remember a few years back when a million dollars showed up that no one seemed to know about before?
Wow, Dixon had so much in its coffers nobody missed $53 million? They must have photo radar.
Payson has been incorporated about twice as long.
A dollar here a dollar there over almost 50 years a lot of dollars can slip thru the cracks.
"Remember a few years back when a million dollars showed up that no one seemed to know about before?"
boboby, I like that comment. If it were left to me all photo radar setups would be placed where they could inspect the brain of some politician from a rather low-level viewpoint.
"A dollar here a dollar there over almost 50 years a lot of dollars can slip thru the cracks."
That reminds me of a famous gaffe made by Everett Dirksen, who said, "A million here and a million there and pretty soon we are talking about real money."
Just for laughs i did a quick calculation. Suppose you were stealing $2.5 million a year and wanted to do it in pieces no larger than--say--$50,000. How many pieces would that be?
Turns out that fifty times a year (!) you would have to cook the books $50,000 worth for all 20 or 21 years to do it. Man! Somebody had to be deaf, dumb, and blind to have missed that.
You think she maybe sold the town to the Chinese and they just showed up to claim their property?
Think back to when the town manager Gailbraith took over and someone in finance found a million $ in a fund somewhere.
I think there were audits every year but no one could understand anything the way they were explained and it seems it was the same auditor for many years.
To me a million is a lot of money to not show and then all of a sudden jump up.
"To me a million is a lot of money to not show and then all of a sudden jump up."
I'd say that was a reasonable conclusion.
Audits are meaningless unless that are easy to understand and transparent.
Don't know, haven't looked it up, but it sounds like Dixon is a suburb of Chicago whose residents are Cops and politicians. :)
Go back in the archives of the Roundup, you will find some stories about the million $ here in Payson.
I remember the $1 million dollars that was found. However I tried to search the archives and could not find an article with the information.
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