Criminal Justice

Suspended lawyer admits stealing from ex-wife, former mother-in-law by opening credit cards in their names

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A suspended Pennsylvania lawyer pleaded guilty Monday to identity theft and related offenses for opening credit cards using the identities of his ex-wife and former mother-in-law.

Joshua Janis, 40, pleaded guilty after he was accused of using the bank accounts to support his affairs with other women, buy pornography and visit strip clubs, report the Philadelphia Inquirer, Law360 and the Daily Local News.

He pleaded guilty to 31 counts of identity theft, forgery, access device fraud and theft by deception.

Prosecutors estimate that Janis will owe restitution of $80,000 to his ex-wife and $5,000 to his former mother-in-law.

It wasn’t Janis’ first brush with the law, the articles report. He was convicted last year for collecting legal fees while performing little or no work for the clients. Those charges arose from an ethics probe spurred by client complaints that led to the 2015 suspension of Janis’ law license.

During the criminal investigation of the client theft case, prosecutors learned that Janis had set up credit card accounts in the name of his wife, who had met Janis in law school, the Daily Local News reported. She learned of the problem after she asked Janis to leave their home, according to her testimony at a preliminary hearing.

Janis had picked up the mail until he left. When the wife picked up the mail, she found collection and cancellation notices for the credit cards accounts. Janis had used his own email address and cellphone number when setting up the accounts.

The wife alerted her mother, who learned that Janis had also set up a credit card in her name.

Janis is scheduled to be sentenced for both cases in March.

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