A couple is arrested and charged with defrauding a company in their native Poland.
By RICHARD DANIELSON, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 23, 2003
TARPON SPRINGS -- To acquaintances, Jacek R. Kruszczynski and his wife, Malgorzata J. Kruszczynska, seemed like new immigrants determined to live the American dream.
At the Daisy Polish Deli, the store he ran on U.S. 19 in Holiday, Kruszczynski had people call him Jack. Along with kielbasa sausage, pierogi turnovers and pastries, he sold hard-to-find canned goods and sweets along with Polish greeting cards, compact discs and movies on DVD.
A mile and a half to the south, in the Forest Ridge subdivision, the family owned a new home with a three-car garage and a pool. Kruszczynski told neighbors his two elementary school-aged sons were helping him improve his English. When a neighbor mowed part of his yard, he returned the favor with a gift of smoked sausage and Polish doughnuts.
"As you'd walk by the house, you'd smell some real good stuff coming out of the place," neighbor Roger Weber said. "From all outward appearances, they appeared to be a family working hard just to start a business."
But there was another side to the family, according to the FBI. Tuesday morning, federal agents arrested Kruszczynski, 35, and Kruszczynska, 36, at their home on a warrant that they helped defraud a company in Poland. Though married, the couple's last names are spelled slightly differently, said Special Agent Sara Oates, a spokeswoman in the FBI's Tampa office.
Polish authorities allege that Kruszczynski and others defrauded a Polish corporation known as Pollena by taking $304,000 worth of household chemical products and selling them on the black market. Kruszczynski and associates have been accused in Poland of paying bribes and kickbacks to a Pollena executive who allegedly helped him take possession of the goods, according to the FBI.
That executive also worked to subvert the company's efforts to collect payment for the goods, but Pollena's chief accountant uncovered the scheme in January 2000 and filed a criminal complaint. Polish authorities say Kruszczynski did business under the name "Jeans Centrum," a company registered in Poland under his wife's name.
Jeans Centrum provided false bank account information as part of the scam, according to authorities.
Kruszczynski and his wife arrived in the U.S. in February 2000 as visitors and lived in New Jersey before moving to Tarpon Springs, according to the FBI. In December 2001 they paid $170,000 for a new home on Wood Brook Street in Tarpon Springs, just south of the Pinellas-Pasco county line.
In February 2002, Kruszczynski and a partner in New Jersey formed a company, J.B.G. Triangle Enterprise, that does business at the deli's address, according to state corporate records.
Few neighbors said they knew the family well, but several were stunned to learn of the allegations.
"We very rarely saw them because they were at the deli late," said neighbor Marie Zinsmayer.
Kruszczynski had told neighbors that he had to drive up to New Jersey as often as once a week to pick up spices and sausage casing. He had mentioned perhaps putting his house on the market in December or January.
Several neighbors wondered about the welfare of the couple's sons. Oates said she could not discuss the whereabouts of the boys or details of the arrest.
Kruszczynski and Kruszczynska each were charged with one count of fraud in Poland, where an undisclosed number of others also have been charged in the scheme, according to the FBI. They were being held at the Orient Road Jail in Hillsborough County without bail Tuesday night. An extradition hearing has been scheduled for Thursday.
At the Daisy Polish Deli on Tuesday, the doors were locked, and employees at a neighboring business were surprised to hear of the arrests.
"They're really nice people," said Kyle Gorzney, a cook at the Villa Roma Italian Restaurant next door. He said Kruszczynski works hard and the deli stays busy. "I bet he cooks 1,200 pounds of sausage a week." Link