A Former Museum Director Stole $31,000—and Faked a Burglary—All to Buy Wood Pellets and Tickets to Six Flags, a New Lawsuit Alleges

The former museum head allegedly tried to cover her tracks by filing false documents.

The board of the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum in Adams, Massachusetts, has accused its former director of stealing $31,000 from the small nonprofit organization, which maintains the childhood home of the suffragist.

Colleen Janz, who was director from 2012 until she was fired in 2018, embezzled the funds over the course of three years, according to charges filed by museum representatives. The story was first reported by the Berkshire Eagle

Janz funneled money and falsified documents to cover her tracks for three years, according to court documents. In that span, plaintiffs allege that she made 340 unauthorized transactions, including purchases of jewelry, wood pellets, satellite TV service, car insurance, and tickets to cruise lines and Six Flags.

Carol Crossed, the president of the museum’s board of directors, told the Berkshire Eagle that the transactions only became apparent after a vendor contacted the museum about a missing payment. Janz allegedly told him that $8,000 had been stolen from the museum and that his payment would be delayed.

“We were devastated,” Crossed told the Berkshire Eagle. “We trusted her. She was a friend. We gave her bonuses and personal gifts.”

Janz was arraigned earlier this month in a Northern Berkshire District Court, where she pleaded not guilty to a charge of larceny. If convicted, she could face two to five years in prison.

After the incident, the board hired two accounting firms to look over the museum’s books. They uncovered a number of dubious records and found that roughly $31,000 was missing “in suspicious transactions neither authorized by the board, nor related to legitimate expenses on behalf of the museum,” according to court paperwork.

The museum’s annual operating budget is roughly $125,000.

A pretrial hearing is set for December in Berkshire County. The museum declined artnet News’s request for comment.

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