WASHINGTON – John G. Rusnak had a logical answer for all the reporters who called his Edgemere home Wednesday asking if he was the John Rusnak suspected of defrauding Allfirst Bank of $750 million.
"If I was that guy, I wouldn't I be talking to you on the phone," he said. "I'd be on a sailboat."
The retired Bethlehem Steel worker and his wife, Gerry, spent much of Wednesday answering calls from media agencies worldwide, who discovered Rusnak's now-infamous name in phone books and on the Internet.
The Rusnaks asserted, again and again, that John G. Rusnak — the 69-year-old grandfather of three — is not the other John Rusnak, the mid-40s banker and father of two from Baltimore who is sought by the FBI.
"But good luck with the rest of your phone calls," Gerry said.
The calls began around 8 a.m., when a reporter from The Irish Times woke the Rusnaks and asked in heavy brogue whether they had embezzled $750 million — that's 865 million euros — from Allfirst, the Baltimore subsidiary of Ireland's Allied Irish Banks.
"I don't usually get up early, and I couldn't even understand what she was saying," Gerry said. Then the multinational flood began.
Calls came steadily throughout the day from CNN, the London Times, The Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, WBAL-TV in Baltimore, BBC Radio in London, a German newspaper and three Irish newspapers Gerry had never heard of. The couple finally started keeping a tally of all the organizations that had tapped their line.
"One of reporters says, 'Have the FBI been to the house yet?'" Gerry said. "And I thought, gee, thanks for telling me so can get all spruced up if they come here."
The Rusnaks, who usually spend their days fixing up their Baltimore County home, said they understand that the reporters are just doing their jobs, searching for anyone who might be connected to the scandal. Their sense of humor is helping them enjoy the 15 minutes of international fame.
"We're not laughing at the situation, we're just laughing at the phone calls and stuff," John said. "It's something unfortunate to happen," he said. "People are going to be hurt by what this man did, but it wasn't anything violent. We can put a little humor into it."
John G. Rusnak, the grandpa, maintained that he has no idea who other John Rusnak is or where authorities might find him. But he said that if the banker is found, he wouldn't mind a cut of the bounty.
Capital News Service contributed to this report.