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Jones' fate on hold

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:49 PM

James Hennessy was upset after hearing that Janet L. Jones, convicted of scamming $1.4 million from 11 area elderly people, wouldn't be sentenced Monday as scheduled.

"This has been dragging on for 10 years," said Hennessy, who has been aware of the case through one of the victims and the media. "She was able to take advantage of (people) who can't take care of themselves."

Jones, 57, of 226 W. Broadway St., Plymouth, is out on bond after pleading guilty in March to one count each of attempted aggravated theft and tampering with evidence. She had been indicted March 13, 2006 on a 48-count indictment, alleging she created a business to perform legal work for people and then writing herself into their wills.

As part of the scam, Jones set up a post office box in an attorney's name, created authentic-looking documents, forged an attorney's signature and then filed those false documents in probate courts and recorder's and auditor's offices in Huron and Richland counties, court records show. Prosecutors have said Jones does not have a law degree and is not a paralegal.

Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler said Visiting Common Pleas Judge Richard Markus thought there were "too many loose ends," such as determining the final restitution numbers, for the sentencing hearing to proceed Monday. There was no hearing after a meeting with attorneys and Markus.

Jones is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 17.

"I wanted her sentenced very badly (Monday), but I couldn't get it done," Leffler told the small crowd gathered at Huron County Common Pleas Court.

The prosecutor said Jones still has control of some of the properties in question. Leffler said if Jones had been sentenced, the court would have lost the ability to deed the properties.

"That causes problems. We have to have the deeds in a row (before she's sentenced)," he said. "If she did some real (property) damage, the judge would take that into consideration in the penal part of this case."

Hennessy, a Toledo pediatric cardiologist, brought a three-ring notebook with him that contained court documents, letters to the court and newspaper accounts of the Jones case. Hennessy said the multiple delays is one of the reasons people can't trust the judicial system.

"I'm pissed and you can tell," he said. "It should have been done in Richland County, not Huron County."

Leffler told Hennessy he hopes attorneys are working toward a satisfying resolution for everyone involved.

"She picked her victims well," Leffler said. "Believe me, there are elderly being targeted every day. I am well aware of that."

Jones reportedly victimized 11 estates between 1989 and 2003. In one case, Jones allegedly filed monthly guardianship reports in Richland County Probate Court and stole property valued at more than $100,000 belonging to one woman.

Neil McKown, a Shelby attorney who represents a husband and wife who were victimized by Jones, said he thought attorneys made some progress Monday. The couple, who owned a 100-acre farm between Plymouth and Shelby, died between 2001 and 2002.

McKown confirmed that attorneys are attempting to sort out the restitution issue.

"That's what's being discussed the farm and some cash," he said. "I expect it to be totally resolved by the 17th."

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