Convictions didn't deter couple
His wife helped him escape federal prison after he landed there for ripping off an elderly couple.
A few years later, the two of them surfaced in Hawaii, where Timothy Peter Janusz allegedly stole $150,000 in donations from his employer, Salvation Army Hawaii.
And both somehow managed to keep their checkered history a secret -- until last week, when Janusz, who served as a fundraiser for the Salvation Army, was charged with first-degree theft. His bail was set Friday at $1 million in cash.
Because of Janusz, the Salvation Army is reconsidering its hiring policies.
Until now it checked the background of potential hires only in its children's programs. The policy helps weed out anyone with child molestation charges, Salvation Army Hawaii spokesman Daniel DeCastro said.
"Given this incident that just happened, to hopefully prevent any possibilities of any wrongdoing, we are looking into expanding that policy to include people who will be dealing with fundraising efforts for the Salvation Army," DeCastro said.
Salvation Army officials investigated Janusz after receiving an anonymous tip that he was defrauding seniors.
They discovered three $50,000 checks allegedly made out to the Kaspick Holding Co. in his office, with Janusz listed as controlling agent. The checks had been intended for donations to the Salvation Army.
Police seized his bank accounts Wednesday and discovered records showing Janusz also received a gift to the Salvation Army of a deed to four vacant lots in Arizona valued at $75,000 and a Big Island property in Keaau valued at $127,000.
The Salvation Army fired him last week from his planned-giving director position.
DeCastro said the Salvation Army is committed to making sure all gifts to the organization will reach people in need "and that we will do everything we can to safeguard those donations."
It is not clear how Janusz and his wife, Susan, arrived in Hawaii or how they hid their past from employers.
She worked as a teacher at several private schools in Hawaii, including one that submitted her application to the state for a criminal background check, according to one school director.
Court records show that Janusz was convicted of defrauding $2.3 million from an elderly couple in Colorado in 1996.
Two years later his wife pleaded guilty to aiding in his escape from Yankton Federal Prison Camp in South Dakota, where he had been serving a 63-month sentence for wire fraud conviction. The couple was caught in the Dutch Antilles and extradited to the United States, the AP reported.
A federal court sentenced her in November 2000 to four months of home confinement and three years' probation.
Susan Janusz had taught at Calvary-by-the-Sea School, a preschool-to-kindergarten Montessori school in Aina Haina. The school's director, Denise Acklin, said yesterday that Janusz was a teacher at the school and left about a year ago.
"She was employed at several schools on the island before she even came to us," Acklin said.
According to Acklin, the school is in compliance with state licensing regulations and submits all teaching applications to the state for criminal background checks.
"All of our teachers go through a thorough criminal background check through the Department of Human Services," Acklin said. "Safety is our No. 1 priority."