A West Chester lawyer and New Jersey native was sentenced to up to 23 years in prison for stealing money from his clients for incomplete work and using the identities of his ex-wife and former mother-in-law to open credit cards and take out loans, authorities announced.
Joshua Janis, 40, worked as a lawyer for a West Chester law firm in 2013, and when it was discovered he was stealing money from the firm and its clients, he was fired, according to District Attorney Deb Ryan.
He then started his own law practice, where he repeatedly accepted payments from clients for legal work he never performed over the next two years, Ryan said.
Clients paid Janis to handle civil disputes, personal injury cases, child custody, divorce, protection from abuse, and criminal defense, Ryan said.
Janis' ex-wife began receiving credit card bills from companies where she did not have accounts and discovered that he was opening credit cards and taking out loans in her name after their divorce, Ryan said.
Janis also reportedly used his former mother-in-law’s name to open credit cards, Ryan said.
"Eight years after the defendant’s criminal actions began, he is finally going to prison for victimizing people who hired him to represent their legal interests. He stole money and caused irreparable legal and emotional damage to victims of all ages in a callous and depraved manner," Ryan said.
"More than that, he stripped them of the valued trust between a client and their lawyer, tarnishing the profession. The victims, including his ex-wife and former mother-in-law, are to be commended for fighting to reclaim their lives from the damage he caused.”
A jury found Janis guilty in December 2020 of 34 counts of defrauding victims who were his clients, Ryan said.
On a separate date, Janis pled guilty to 31 counts of identity theft, forgery, and other charges stemming from the cases involving his ex-wife and former mother-in-law, Ryan said.
Janis was sentenced by Judge Patrick Carmody to 11-23 years in prison for multiple counts of theft, identity theft, fraud, and other charges.
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