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Employee gets 18 months in prison for stealing from Schererville appliance store

Updated: February 12, 2014 6:12AM



An Illinois man must serve 18 months in prison after he used his position at a Schererville store to steal at least $227,374 of appliances from it.

Danilo Danti, 60, of Lake Forest, Ill., must also pay back that amount in restitution to Douglas and Pamela Marusczczak, owners of Marusczczak Appliances.

The couple hired Danti, who had previously owned his own delivery business, in 2010 after he had fallen on hard times. However, he used his previous business connections to take more than 100 appliances, some worth more than $5,000, and deliver them to people in Illinois who had never paid the store for them.

Danti asked for leniency during his sentencing hearing Friday at U.S. District Court in Hammond, citing his many health problems, including the need to get stents for his heart. He also said he intends to repay the Marusczczaks.

“I want to apologize to two really nice people,” he said, looking at them in the audience.

His attorney, John Maksimovich, also said Danti’s health is “dire” and argued that Danti would not be a repeat offender. He asked that Danti be sentenced to probation and home confinement.

“It’s out of character for him,” Maksimovich said of the crime.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall Stewart argued for prison time, saying the Marusczczaks were only helping a friend and eventually had to sell the company’s cars, cash in savings accounts and cut their own pay just to keep their store afloat. It took them two years to recover from the theft.

“They had trusted this man, and he betrayed that trust,” Stewart said.

He added that the country is seeing more financial fraud and that the government needs to send a message that such criminals won’t be treated with a slap on the wrist.

U.S. District Judge Philip Simon said he did seriously consider the impact of putting someone with Danti’s poor health in the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. However, he said the depth of the crime needed a sentence more serious than probation or home confinement.

“There is no conceivable way in good conscience I can give him a sentence of probation or home confinement,” Simon said.

Douglas Marusczczak said during the hearing that an audit of the company’s books show a true loss of almost $350,00. However, he said afterward he was pleased with the sentence.

“Justice has done its job,” he said.



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