Published: July 13, 2021
NORTH ADAMS, MASS. – During a July 7 hearing in Northern Berkshire District Court, Judge Paul M. Vrabel rejected a plea agreement in the embezzlement case against the former executive director of the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum. As reported in the Berkshire Eagle, Colleen Janz of Florida, who in October 2019 was accused of embezzling $31,000 from the museum, was set to accept a continuance without a finding in her felony larceny case. A deal had been struck by Berkshire district attorney Andrea Harrington’s office and defense lawyer Robert Kinzer to have the larceny case dismissed with the stipulation that Janz stay out of trouble for 30 days and pay a $50 fee.
The rationale for the plea agreement, according to assistant district Attorney Kelly Samuels, was that Janz had no criminal record and that the case had been pending in court for three years since first initiated in September 2019.
According to the newspaper report, Judge Vrabel said at the hearing that he could not approve the agreement, commenting that while it might have been appropriate for someone accused of shoplifting, it was not appropriate for someone accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from her employer. He is reported as saying that criminal sentencing is “about punishment, deterrence and rehabilitation,” but the “sentence proposed does none of that.”
Janz, 47, was fired in July 2018 after the museum discovered about $31,000 missing through a series of “suspicious transactions” over a period of nearly three years, according to a probable cause report. She had been executive director since 2012.
She has pleaded not guilty to a charge of larceny of more than $1,200 by single scheme, which carries a prison sentence of two to five years and a fine of up to $20,000 if convicted.
The case has been marked up for trial, set for February 2022.
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