Joshua Janis, attorney who stole from clients, family, sentenced to 11 years in prison | News
WEST CHESTER – The Common Pleas judge, who on Monday sentenced attorney Joshua Janis to 11-23 years in prison for stealing former clients and family members, could barely suppress his anger as he described the victims of the lithe, charismatic one Lawyer were included.
“Nothing is sacred to you,” said Judge Patrick Carmody as a courtroom filled with Janis’ victims listened in silence as he pissed off the former “rising star” attorney for lying to his clients and cheating on them with their hard-earned money, that they had paid as fees. Avoid her asking about her cases and ultimately contribute to the destruction of her life in many cases. “You will lie to everyone.”
“The consequences of all these cases are mounting,” Carmody said, his voice furious as he pointed out that the lives of more than two dozen victims had been negatively changed by Janis just because they chose Janis as their lawyer they simply represent custody, divorce or minor criminal matters. “You have shamed the legal community and I apologize on behalf of the legal community to all of the victims in the courtroom. It’s all a shame. “
Carmody convicted Janis of multiple thefts and addressed many of the charges against him individually by the name of the client’s circumstances. For many, the result of his inaction was personal hardship beyond loss of mere money – alienation from family, other legal troubles, the overwhelming feeling of betrayal, Carmody said.
He took her hard-earned money, the judge said, and then did little or no work on her cases, although it would have required little effort. “I spent more time investigating this case over the weekend than you did for these people,” said the judge. “You got her fee and then moved on. You did not do anything. “
Carmody, who led the trial of Janis’ client and pleaded guilty to stealing his ex-wife and mother-in-law, said he was considering sentencing Janis to 15 years in prison – that would have been the longest sentence ever given by a lawyer had stolen from clients or their law firms – had there been unsupportive letters, Janis’ family, four of whom were in the courtroom, had him praising his background and saying his crimes were “atypical”.
But the judge also questioned this idea. Janis made no mistake, such as a defendant charged with first-time arrest of drunk driver. “They did this every day for over two years,” Carmody said to Janis, who sat next to his lawyer a few yards from the bench. You were a cheat It wasn’t atypical. It was totally full of character. “
For his part, Janis made no explanation for his behavior and tried to apologize to his ex-clients and ex-wife and ex-mother-in-law from whom he stole thousands of dollars by opening credit accounts on their behalf and rang bills for porn sites, among other things Adults and strip clubs.
“I knew that my attorney credentials kept me at a high ethical level and that I missed this bar very much,” he said in a written statement he read in court. “My shameful behavior embarrassed me, my family, my ex-wife, and my job. To be very clear, my behavior was disgusting. I am ashamed of my actions. “
But Carmody called Janis’ statement inadequate. “It wasn’t from the heart and I see no regrets.” The judge said Janis has indicated that he would like to return to the law after his criminal case is complete, a remark that sparked a laugh from the courtroom. “I read this and shook my head,” he said. “I hope to God not.”
Janis, 40, formerly from Downingtown and now West Milford, New Jersey, has been repatriated in leg shackles and handcuffs from the courtroom to Chester County Jail, where he has been held without bail since he left after a week of a jury found guilty of half a long hearing. His attorney, Ryan Hyde of Exton, declined to comment on Carmody’s verdict or whether Janis is considering appealing the verdict.
Former Assistant District Attorney Ronald Yen, who co-led the case with Assistant District Attorney John McCaul, also declined to comment.
Bonnie Kennedy, one of the six victims who made emotional statements to Carmody on Monday and was one of the original clients identified by state authorities as being betrayed by Janis, said she was satisfied with the verdict. “I’m happy,” she said outside the courtroom. “I am happy with it. If it hadn’t been less, it wouldn’t have been me. “
Yen and McCaul had asked for 10 to 30 years imprisonment because Carmody knew the extent of Janis’ thefts, the number of victims, and the circumstances of his brazen thefts – he once ran out a back door of his office instead of facing a family who paid him $ 5,000 to portray a man charged with attempted murder – and the advanced age of some clients.
“Janis needs to be stored for the protection of society as there is a practical certainty that he will insult and harass more people if he has the opportunity,” the duo said on a sentencing record.
Hyde argued that what Janis had been found guilty of, while reprehensible, were more legal ethical errors than criminal offenses. He told Carmody to impose a much lesser sentence than the prosecution recommended that would have kept Janis from the state prison.
Hyde blamed Janis’ actions for overwork, not for intent to cheat. “He took many cases and didn’t do the job,” he said. “But Josh Janis is being blamed for an end result that wasn’t entirely his own.”
Janis graduated from Widener University School of Law in 2006 and started working for the Ciccarelli law firm in West Chester, where he worked on family law, personal injury and petty criminal matters. He was fired from the company after being caught taking clients’ fees as his own and started a one-on-one practice in 2013. He was suspended by the state Supreme Court in December 2015 after half a dozen of those clients officially complained about his dishonesty in handling their cases.
After the news of the suspension broke, more than a dozen other customers got in touch and complained to Chester County’s detectives about their own cases. He was finally accused in 2018 by detectives Gerald Davis and Robert Dougherty of stealing 28 clients, ex-wife Jennifer Hulnick and mother-in-law Ellen Hulnick, both of whom attended the conviction Monday.
He faced a maximum possible sentence of 23 to 46 years in state prison for the 29 charges on which the jury found him guilty, for both felony and misdemeanor. He agreed to plead guilty to the Hulnicks’ indictment and was sentenced to a simultaneous prison sentence of two to ten years.
As Carmody was finalizing his conviction, he recalled Hyde referencing the extensive documentation the prosecution had put together to bring their case to the jury in his trial, calling it a physical representation of “David versus Goliath,” where he Janis in the role of the outdone biblical fighter.
In fact, Janis’ victims were at a disadvantage in dealing with him, the judge noted. He knew how the legal system worked, they didn’t.
“All of these victims were David,” he said to Janis before sending him away. “You were Goliath.”
To contact staff writer Michael P. Rellahan, call 610-696-1544.