Ex-fundraiser pleads guilty to senior fraud
A former fundraiser for the Salvation Army has admitted to defrauding four elderly donors and his employer of about $350,000 in cash and real property and converting them for his benefit.
Timothy Peter Janusz, 49, of Kailua, pleaded guilty yesterday before Circuit Judge Steve Alm to 12 felony counts, including first-degree theft, money laundering, racketeering and forgery.
He faces a mandatory 10 years in prison for the money laundering and racketeering counts.
Janusz, who has degrees in business administration and law and a history of conning the elderly, was hired by Salvation Army in July 2003 as its director for planned giving. He was fired in April 2006 after the agency received an anonymous e-mail accusing Janusz of stealing from the Salvation Army and defrauding the elderly.
A search of his office yielded photocopies of three $50,000 checks in a locked cabinet that were made out to Kaspick Holding Co., of which he is listed as controlling agent. The name is similar to California-based Kaspick & Co. which oversees annuities made by donors to the Salvation Army.
The checks had been issued by donor Franklin C. Geiger who told the Salvation Army it was supposed to be a $150,000 gift to the nonprofit group, not to Janusz.
Also recovered were deeds to four vacant lots in Arizona valued at $18,000 per lot and to a Big Island property valued at $127,000.
The properties, received from donors, were transferred to two companies, Kaspick Holding Co. Ltd. and K.I. Consulting Ltd., both of which Janusz was listed as the controlling agent. Janusz was accused of obtaining 50 percent interest in the Big Island property, selling it at thousands below the market value and depositing the $20,000 proceeds into his account.
Prosecutors credited Janusz yesterday for taking responsibility and saving the elderly victims, between the ages of 72 and 87, the inconvenience of coming to court and having to testify and relive their experiences as victims of fraud.
"The Salvation Army stepped up and reimbursed the victims, so we're grateful for their response, as well as Mr. Janusz taking responsibility," said Deputy Prosecutor Chris Van Marter, who described Janusz' conduct as "extremely serious."
Janusz' attorney, Deputy Public Defender Craig Nagamine, declined to comment.
Janusz, who has a federal conviction in 1996 and served time in a South Dakota prison camp for stealing $2.2 million from an elderly Colorado couple, is still awaiting trial for escaping from the facility. He has since served the time remaining for the fraud.
After his release, Janusz came to Hawaii with his wife in 2003. Besides working at the Salvation Army, Janusz also taught at the Aiea campus of Wayland Baptist University.
The fraud prompted the Salvation Army to reconsider its hiring policies and conduct background checks.
Janusz will be sentenced Nov. 26.