How telling - attorney Janis had been accused of STEALING money from clients - nothing happened. When the law firm reported money had been stolen by attorney Janis he was ARRESTED.
WEST CHESTER >> A suspended Chester County attorney who left behind a trail of dissatisfied clients who accuse him of taking their money for routine legal matters and then doing little, if any, work on their cases has been arrested for allegedly stealing money from his former law firm.
On Monday, June 25, Joshua Adam Janis appeared before Magisterial District Judge Marian Thayer Vito for preliminary arraignment on charges of theft by failure to make required disposition, theft by deception, theft by unlawful taking, and receiving stolen property.
He had been charged three days before by Chester County Detective Gerald Davis Jr., but had been away in New York on business in his new career as a website designer, and so turned himself in when he returned. He was accompanied by his attorney, Evan Kelly of West Chester.
Janis, 37, of East Caln, was released on $10,000 unsecured bail. Vito set a preliminary hearing for July 17.
According to the criminal complaint filed by Davis, Janis is accused of taking money from clients of the law office of Lee A. Ciccarelli in West Chester, where he worked as staff attorney from October 2006 to December 2013, when he resigned after being confronted with evidence of his conduct.
Ciccarelli had identified six clients of his firm from whom Janis took legal fees for his own use instead of turning them over to the firm. He also reported that Janis had converted a referral fee from another attorney for a personal injury claim for his own use, instead of providing the fee to the firm.
Kelly, asked about Janis’ arrest, declined comment.
In 2015, the state Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Board ordered that Janis, who practiced mostly family law in the county, be suspended from practicing law in the state for five years. The board found that he took money from clients and promised to help with their custody cases, divorce proceedings, and summary citation appeals but actually did little if any work on those matters.
Janis, who had law offices in West Chester, Malvern, and Downingtown before his suspension, agreed to surrender his law license beginning Dec. 25, 2015. The ruling suspending his license came after several formal complaints were lodged against him, including the Ciccarelli complaints.
The board’s decision identified five separate clients who had hired Janis thinking he would help with their legal problems but later found out he did not actually file anything on their behalf, despite his assurances that their cases were moving along. From the narrative, Janis seemed busier trying to dodge his clients and their requests for information, making up stories about the progress of their cases, or misleading a Common Pleas Court judge about the status of one case, than actually working on the legal matters.
He was found to have violated 17 separate sections of the state Rules of Professional Conduct, including not providing competent representation, failing to consult with clients in case settlements, making false statements to clients, and mishandling client funds.
After the news of his suspension became public, about 12 more former clients came forward to the Daily Local News with similar complaints about his lack of attention to their cases.
Those allegations of malfeasance are not part of the criminal case against Janis, which focuses solely on his actions in regard to the Ciccarelli law firm.
According to Davis’ complaint, in March 201 a man named Robert Davis hired the firm to represent him in divorce proceedings in the county Common Pleas Court. At the time, he dealt with Janis, who was a member of the firm. Davis paid Janis $2,500 in two installments, funds that should have been given to the firm.
“Davis reported that Janis never did anything on his behalf via the courts and told Davis, for approximately five years, that everything was proceeding normally. In fact, Janis had filed only three items on Davis’ behalf in the county’s Prothonotary’s Office, including an initial complaint and an entry of appearance fo Janis on behalf of the Ciccarelli firm.
Not until January 2014, when another attorney from the firm entered her appearance, did anything proceed with Davis’ case. A year later, even after he had formally withdrawn from the case and had left the firm, Janis contacted Davis and asked him for $511 to schedule a hearing with a court Divorce Master. Davis paid the “fee,” but Janis never filed for the hearing, because he no longer represented Davis and had, in fact, left the Ciccarelli firm in 2013, according to the complaint.
According to the case against him before the Disciplinary Board, Janis acknowledged that he had illicitly taken $1,000 that belonged to the firm from Davis.
Also, in July 2010, a couple, Carlo and Louise Fortuna, hired the Ciccarelli firm to represent it in a personal injury case stemming from a motor vehicle accident. The case was assigned to Janis, who was directed to refer the case to a specific Delaware attorney, since the crash had occurred there.
Instead, Janis referred the case to another Delaware law firm. In June 2013, that firm send a check for $2,980 to Janis at the Ciccarelli firm. But four months later, in October 2013, Janis told the firm that the Fortuna’s case was still active even though it had been settled.
Davis contends the referral fee should have gone to the firm, not Janis. He allegedly admitted the same in the Disciplinary Board proceedings.
Finally, in July 2013, Adrianna Griffin hired the firm to represent her in a divorce case in the county. She agreed to pay the firm $1,500, and the case was assigned to Janis. But when Janis contacted her, he asked for a check for $3,000 made out to him personally. He allegedly gave the firm $1,500 on her behalf, and kept the remaining $1,500. Thereafter, no work was ever done on her case until January 2014, when another attorney from the firm took over.
Again, Janis acknowledged the conduct in his Disciplinary Board proceedings.
Source: Daily Local News