Kent attorney gets a year in prison for $75k theft
By Justin Wier
A former Kent attorney will spend a year in prison for stealing $75,000 from a former client he represented in a divorce case.
Ben Joltin, 44, told the court he was “truly ashamed” by his behavior which he characterized as “selfish” and “misguided.”
He pleaded guilty in November to charges of grand theft, passing bad checks and forgery.
“I somehow lost track of who I was,” Joltin said through tears. “I wasn’t raised this way.”
Assistant Prosecutor Nick Brevetta read a statement from Joltin’s victim that said she’s suffered several evictions since Joltin took the money, which she planned to use to purchase her marital home after the divorce.
“I’ve lost more than I can ever get back,” the statement read.
Atty. J. Gerald Ingram, who represented Joltin, said his client has four kids and had issues paying child support but acknowledged there was “no excuse” for his actions.
Brevetta said Joltin committed “a cardinal sin” and failing to adequately punish him would perpetuate negative stereotypes surrounding the legal profession.
“Mr. Joltin has done nothing but make that stereotype ring true,” Brevetta said.
Judge John M. Durkin, who imposed the sentence Tuesday in Mahoning Common Pleas Court, said far too many attorneys and judges have fallen short of the oath they had taken.
“You should never have the opportunity to practice law again, as good as you were ... because you were [good],” Judge Durkin said.
Joltin received a two-year suspension from the Ohio Supreme Court after he mishandled the funds of three clients, two of whom fired him.
Ingram said his client surrendered his law license.
At Joltin’s plea hearing, prosecutors agreed to enter into a theft-diversion program if he made full restitution to his victim. Completion of the program would have resulted in the dismissal of his charges.
Ingram said he hoped that would be the case, but he only had $40,000 in a trust account which he and his family went to extreme lengths to gather.
Judge Durkin ordered Joltin to make full restitution to his victim.
He also said he would consider judicial release at the appropriate time, which prompted a woman sitting with the victim to storm out of the courtroom.
“I want to do everything I can to ensure the victim is made completely whole,” Judge Durkin said, adding that keeping him in prison would make restitution unlikely.
Joltin will report to the Mahoning County jail by 9 a.m. Monday.