February 22, 2020
Ex-Exec. Dir. Charged in Theft from Susan B. Anthony Museum

October 10, 2019 — The former executive director of the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum, a nonprofit in Adams that works to raise public awareness of the wide-ranging legacy of the pioneering feminist and suffragist, was charged with embezzling $31,000 while running the organization.

Colleen Janz, 45, of Florida, was arraigned on a larceny charge earlier this month in Northern Berkshire District Court, according to a report in The Berkshire Eagle.

She pleaded not guilty to a charge of larceny over $1,200 by single scheme, and a pretrial hearing is set for early December, according to the Eagle.

Janz served as executive director of the museum from 2012 until she was fired in July 2018, the paper quoted Carol Crossed, board president of the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum (SBABM).

"We were devastated," Crossed was quoted saying. "We trusted her. She was a friend. We gave her bonuses and personal gifts."

She added, "We are a nonprofit. The money belongs to the museum, so she's basically charged with stealing from the public."

Janz reportedly forged documents and falsifying records, amounting to 340 unauthorized transactions, according to court documents, the paper reported, noting, "She spent money on items and services including meals, jewelry, Six Flags tickets, Uber rides, wood pellets, air travel, payments to a cruise line and a satellite TV company, car insurance, and groceries."

According to the newspaper report, "Crossed said that the board became suspicious when a vendor called and asked for his bill to be paid.

"She discovered that Janz had not paid the vendor and had lied to him about a fictitious robbery of $8,000 from the museum to buy more time to pay the outstanding bill."

Two public accountant firms were hired, and found that approximately $31,000 was unaccounted for "in suspicious transactions neither authorized by the board nor related to legitimate expenses on behalf of the museum," according to the probable cause report, the paper reported.

Susan B. Anthony was born in 1820 in the house located at 17 East Road and lived there until 1827 when her family moved to New York. The Society of Friends Descendents, with the help of a local historian, purchased the homestead in 1926. The homestead was transferred to a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization in 1999. Carol Crossed bought the house at auction in 2006.

Anthony was born 100 years before adoption on Aug. 26, 1920, of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which gave women in the United States the right to vote in public, political elections, also called suffrage. The Town of Adams and SBABM are coordinating events to commemorate the centennial of the amendment's adoption next year.

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