Often forgotten in the uproar surrounding a crime and getting lost amid the investigation, arrest and prosecution of the criminal is the fact that crimes usually have a victim.
So it’s gratifying the take note when the people who suffer most and bear the brunt of the pain when someone breaks the law are remembered and even compensated for the loss.
A recent case that involved a crime of mind-boggling proportions has entered the phase where ill-gotten assets are being liquidated and returned to the rightful owners.
I’m referring to an ongoing fraud that lasted 22 years. Rita Crundwell was the comptroller of Dixon, Illinois. She was convicted of stealing more than $53 million of the public’s money.
An interest in horses
What did she do with all that money? A lot of things but a big chunk of it went to pursuing her interest in horses.
After entering countless horse shows during the 22-year swindle, Crundwell accumulated a massive hoard of belt buckles and trophies. Hundreds of them.
The bling as well as the quarter horses that won them are being liquidated so that some of the stolen money can be returned to the taxpayers of Dixon.
To date authorities have returned more than $9.5 million to the city of Dixon.
Crundwell is serving a 19-year prison sentence.
It’s good to see those victims remembered, but that’s not always the case. Down in Georgia, three people were just sentenced for stealing from a state restitution fund.
State employees forged checks written on the department of corrections restitution fund and turned them into cash with the help of a money launderer.
Slim payback chances
They stole more than $200,000, which they mostly spent on retail purchases. In this instance any payback to the state fund will be hard to come by.
My point is that someone needs to look out for the victims who aren’t in a position to look out for themselves. It’s the right thing to do.
Restitution funds and auctions of stolen goods are ways to mitigate the impact of serious crimes, particularly where money and property are involved.
What to do in crimes of violence where lives are lost and physical harm is done? Obviously a murder victim cannot be brought back to life and lost health cannot always be regained.
Grieving families need help as well. And survivors of violent crime need health care and counseling. Don’t forget about them.