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All the Queen's Horses

As the comptroller and treasurer, Crundwell embezzled $53.7 million of the city’s money and went undetected for over twenty years. All the while, Dixon struggled to meet its debt obligations, forcing the city to make painful service cuts and layoffs, and to forgo raises for its municipal employees for more than a decade. Her crime marked the single largest municipal fraud in United States history.

The amount she stole in relation to the city’s annual budget, the fact that a city native and pillar of the community could so callously calculate a community-ruining scam, and the utter frivolousness the money was spent on, all combine to create a riveting story in and of itself. Her motivations may well remain a mystery but All the Queen's Horses is not so much about the why; it’s about the how.

How could the treasurer of an Illinois town with an annual budget of $6 million to $8 million embezzle nearly $54 million over two decades? How could such a scam go undetected in annual audits by two independent accounting firms and in annual audit reviews by state regulators? How did local residents not become suspicious by Crundwell’s extravagant wealth? How has the city suffered as a result, and how will it rebuild and recover? These and many other questions will be addressed in the film.

  • Kelly Richmond Pope
  • Lesley Kubistal
    Inside 9/11, The Oprah Winfrey Show
  • Gordon Quinn
    Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters, Trials of Muhammad Ali
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    56 minutes 49 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 15, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    430,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Kelly Richmond Pope

Kelly is the director and producer of All the Queen's Horses.
Kelly participated in Kartemquin Film's inaugural Diverse Voices in Docs program. She is also an Associate Professor in the School of Accountancy and MIS at DePaul University in Chicago, IL and founder of Helios Digital Learning, Inc. She received her doctorate in accounting from Virginia Tech and she is a licensed certified public accountant. She worked in the forensic practice at KPMG, LLP on anti-money laundering engagements, insurance fraud investigations, and fraud risk management projects. She was selected by the TED Ed team to develop a teaching lesson on “How People Rationalize Fraud” which can be found on the TED Ed website.

She is a recognized expert in the forensic accounting field and has conducted forensic accounting seminars around the world for universities, corporations and governmental entities including the United States Securities and Exchange Commission and the Securities Commission Malaysia.

Her research has been published in leading accounting journals and she co-authored A.B.C.’s of Behavioral Forensics: Using Psychology to Prevent, Detect and Deter Fraud published by John Wiley & Sons. Additionally, she writes for Forbes.com and has published articles in The Daily Beast, The Washington Post and PBS Need To Know.

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Director Statement

Before I began working on All the Queen’s Horses, I was traveling around the world interviewing white-collar felons, whistle-blowers and victims of fraud. I was always fascinated by the interviews I did with white-collar felons. After years of interviewing, I began to notice a pattern; good people can rationalize bad decisions given the right opportunity. When an organization has weak internal controls, fraud can happen. When employees experience pressure, fraud can happen. And when people feel entitled, fraud can happen. Fraud can happen in the most unlikely places like the small Midwestern United States town of Dixon, IL and by the most unlikely people like Rita Crundwell.

The City of Dixon has a population of 15,733 people, and its annual budget is $6 million to $8 million a year. It’s the kind of place where folks are born, settle down, and retire. While tragedies are often felt by all in such a tightknit community, no event has been more unifying in its devastation than the fraud committed by Rita Crundwell. If the largest municipal fraud in United States history can happen in this small town, we know that fraud is happening all across the globe.

Our best defense in fighting the global fraud epidemic is to educate people on how fraud can happen and methods they can employ to prevent fraud. I would like to use film as a medium to educate people about how and why fraud happens. All the Queen’s Horses, my first documentary, seeks to show people how and why fraud can happen in any size organization or community.

I believe that we all should be aware that fraud can happen to any of us and documentary filmmaking is the perfect way to spread this message. I will continue to merge my passion for fraud, filmmaking and teaching for years to come and plan to work on a new project about whistle-blowers.