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Yost arrested on theft charges

Shawn Foucher • Oct 12, 2013 at 8:11 AM

Accused scheister Joe Yost was in the county jail for a grand total of two hours Friday night.

It was a quick taste of what may lie in store for him, if he’s ultimately convicted of felony theft charges for allegedly bilking his former mobile home park tenants out of thousands of dollars.

An Erie County grand jury recently indicted Yost, 66, on two counts of fifth-degree felony theft. Erie County deputies tightened up the loose ends on the secret indictment Friday afternoon, asking Catawba Island police to arrest Yost at a home in the 4200 block of E. Trail St.

Police said they arrested him without incident and handed him off to deputies in a meet-up at the Bay View fire station. He was promptly booked into the Erie County jail, although within about two hours he secured a bondsman to post $10,000 bond, jail guards said.

Investigators and prosecutors settled on the two low-level felonies because only a few of the former tenants of Hoppers mobile home park could provide financial records to support their allegations against Yost.

Through his company Westgate Development, Yost owns the Hoppers mobile home park property at Venice Road and Tiffin Avenue.

He’s accused of collecting money from Hoppers tenants for water services, but failing to pay the city for those services. The situation festered for years — from about 2008 to 2013 — until this past summer, when city officials moved to shut off the water service.

Yost is about $260,000 delinquent on the water and sewer bills at the Hoppers property, city officials said.

When the city killed the property’s water service, it effectively displaced dozens of people who had lived at the mobile home park for years. Almost all those people have since scattered to the wind.    

Meanwhile, while the tenants were being ousted, Sandusky detectives began investigating Yost for collecting the water money but failing to pay the city. Their findings culminated in the grand jury indictment and Friday’s arrest.

“The victims are the tenants of Hoppers trailer court, who were paying rent and water bills to Mr. Yost,” Sandusky police Detective Dave West said. “Then, Mr. Yost was not paying the water bill at all. But he was taking money from the tenants.”

Many of the former tenants couldn’t provide financial records detailing their payments to Yost. The two theft charges represent just two tenants who could provide documentation showing they paid more than $1,000 to Yost, but less than $7,500. West said the names of the two tenants weren’t immediately available.

“The challenge with the whole thing was (finding) accurate and detailed records,” West said.

Medina County prosecutor Dean Holman was appointed as the special prosecutor in the case. Erie County prosecutor Kevin Baxter bowed out because of a conflict of interest.

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