Yost may avoid jail

“Collecting money and not turning it over to the rightful people … I’m well aware of Mr. Yost and his activities in the community”
Courtney Astolfi
Mar 21, 2014
The Erie County prosecutor and a defense attorney agree on this much: Accused thief Joe Yost should not face jail time for allegedly forcing dozens of low-income residents from their homes last year.

At a court hearing Monday, the judge was the only one who appeared unsatisfied with a potential plea bargain that would keepthe owner of the now-defunct Hoppers mobile home park from a stay behind bars.

The city shut off water access to the park late last summer, making it uninhabitable to those who lived there. Yost was subsequently indicted for felony theft because he allegedly collected water payments from those residents but never turned those payments over to the city. All told, he owes Sandusky $260,000 for unpaid Hoppers bills.

Sandusky police detectives were tasked with figuring out just how much money was stolen. They could only account for $2,700 in stolen funds — mostly, detectives said, because residents failed to keep crystal-clear records of each payment they made.

Yost’s jury trial is tentatively slated for April 8, but at Monday’s hearing, special prosecutor Dean Holman and Yost’s attorney, Jonathan Blakely, discussed plans to avoid a jury trial altogether.

The pair want Yost to be placed in a diversion program, which will likely include the requirement he pay the city back for his delinquent bills.

But for Yost to be eligible, his victims must sign off on the agreement. One victim — the city of Sandusky — raised no objections to the potential plea, Holman said.

Erie County Common Pleas Court Judge Roger Binette argued that Hoppers residents were victims, too, and as such they deserve a say in Yost’s punishment.

“The city is probably looking for restitution from the defendant, that’s why they’re satisfied with the diversion,” Binette said. “Then again, the city is the one that shut down the trailer park and bulldozed all those trailer homes. The residents of those mobile homes, this court considers … victims”

Prosecutor Holman, however, didn’t see the connection between Yost’s alleged theft and the fact that residents were forced from their homes.

“A mobile home park was bulldozed for $2,700? I’m not aware of that” Holman said.

“I just don’t know how that fits within the scope of the indictment for the theft of money,” Holman said. “I don’t understand how thatleads to a mobile home being bulldozed”

Blakely didn’t argue with him.

“Many of these tenants also had not been paying for years, both water bills and lot rents … had payments actually been made, this probably wouldn’t have happened. It’s very easy to complain about things after the fact” Blakely said.

Binette cited past court actions in which he’s dealt with Yost, including civil disputes and his involvement with the American Crayon building.

“Collecting money and not turning it over to the rightful people … I’m well aware of Mr. Yost and his activities in the community” Binette said.

Even though Holman and Blakely are in agreement on the plea, they and the court must now parse out the court’s involvement in the deal.

Binette told Holman the adult probation department must conduct an investigation and find that Yost is eligible for the diversion program before the plea can move forward.

Also, Binette said he wants to give Hoppers residents time to file objections to the plea if they so choose.

March 31 is the last opportunity Yost currently has to accept a plea deal before his case goes to trial. On Monday, Binette suggested that date may have to be pushed back to accommodate both of those concerns.

Diedre Cole, a former city commissioner who was instrumental in helping former Hoppers residents found new housing, does not believe Yost deserves a place in a diversion program.

“He needs jail time,” Cole said. “I think that’s where he belongs. This has been an ongoing pattern of systematic abuse of the people and the city. It’s ridiculous.

“The prosecution needs to send a clear message that (the justice system) will stand up for the city and its residents” Cole said.

Comments

Babo

Good for you Ms. Cole. This is an example of Prosecutor Kevin Baxter bringing in his friend Dean Holman from Medina County to act as special prosecutor to help another friend of his Mr. Yost. Mr. Yost was IMO under indicted in the first place. Also, by what authority does Baxter have the right to use another county's full time prosecutor in Erie County to cut a deal for one of his friends?

If ever a case required an independent special prosecutor from DeWine's office instead of a politicized prosecutor, it was this case. Also why does Erie County Commissioners continue to allow Baxter to appoint special prosecutors in Erie County without their approval as required by law and why isn't the City of Sandusky through Law Director Icsman speaking up about his thefts and looking out for its citizens?

Judge Binette ought to sentence this man to the maximum time if he accepts the plea to send a message to the community that there is equal justice under the law.

DGMutley

A lot of questions. I think Ms. Cole is right on the money.

Commenter

The City of Sandusky is just as responsible for NOT turning that water off before it got to that kind of money. That's just irresponsible.
If the residents didn't keep crystal clear records .... Didn't Mr. Yost keep records? If someone didn't pay lot rent or water bill for "years" wouldn't he take action? The water bill was in who's name? Come on this is ridiculous.

DGMutley

It really is hard to get a grip on why this water bill got to $260,000. That's an awful lot of water. It has to be years and years worth of water.

Commenter

I'm not sure how many homes were in this park but I would suspect 8-10 years? Maybe someone from the water department can answer why?

Bada Bing

I'm sure he filed federal taxes why don't we have the irs look into this. Did he deduct his water bill from his taxes or did he not file a return? The city will never get $260.000 from him but I'm sure the irs might and how is the cold creek housing development coming? Enough is enough! city officials do something!!!!!! We taxpayers,your bosses deserve better!!

DGMutley

He couldn't deduct the water bill if he didn't pay for it--no receipts. He does have to claim the residents' payments as income though. It would be my guess he did. The whole park looked like a losing proposition.

candleburner

"likely include the requirement he pay the city back for his delinquent bills"? This statement from the srticle really, really bothers me out of anything else that was said. While it's a possibility that it means that if he's placed in this diversion program that he MAY have to pay back the over a quarter of a million dollars to the city and/or county it ALSO means that there's a very REAL possibility that he MAY NOT have to pay it back! I agree with Ms. Cole on this one, even though while in jail it'll take years to get the money back, once he's in jail every piece of property he owns or has his name on can be sold off and the money can be put towards the bill and then his $0.18 a day or whatever it is that they make while in jail he can put that towards his bill too. His victims ought to have some justice in this, they deserve this and in my opinion I don't see that they're going to be getting any with a plea bargain.

DickTracey

Hmmm, where is that lady from the other story, when we need her? The one that wants to smack a prosecutor.

DGMutley

lol

SamAdams

What a crock! How is it justice when somebody takes money from multiple people, diverts that money in illegal ways, owes money to the government, and ensures OTHER people suffer for those things? Judge Binette has the right of it; the prosecutor's office has the wrong. And if the City is willing to sign off on such a deal just because it gets ITS money back, well, there's yet another indicator of how much it cares about its residents. NOT.

twosenseworth

More accurately presumed, the City is willing to sign off with the "hope" of getting its money back. The collection of that money should have been a top priority for the city finance manager at the time. Since it didn't occur, there's no question that the city had a large share of the blame in this fiasco, and this seems to be the quietest way to bring about a conclusion.

Peninsula Pundit

Welcome, Sam.
Overlooking the 'owes money' part, those are also my thoughts on our current state of election campaign finance in this country.
As a disclaimer, yes, both sides of the aisle feed from that trough equally.

starryeyes83

Sounds like there's plenty of corruption in Erie County and the City of Sandusky, to me.

ladydye_5

Will there be as many articles as Register runs about the corruption in Sandusky County????

jacksonbrowne

This guy, knowingly, for years screwed these people. It's not like it was a one time thing. Knowingly for years!!! He deserves jail time!

Peninsula Pundit

+1

transplant

Toast Yost. Off subject, there are 6 typos in this article.

eightballcuet1

He didn't pay the water bill, what makes you think he will pay the diversion?

deertracker

Exactly!!!!!

doppleganger

But they want us to pay more in the form of a tax increase. What a crock! Jail this guy until he pays the full amount!

Julie R.

Binette doesn't agree with good ole' buddy Kevin Baxter's good buddy special prosecutor Dean Holman? I don't believe it. In Erie County they know the outcome of a case even before it begins; the rest is all smoke & mirrors. That's called legal abuse. It's been going on forever in Erie County and I don't think they're about to change their stripes at this stage of the game.

Darkhorse

The city rolled over once again. Yost is not going to pay up. Wishful thinking on the part of the city. The city's wasteful spending of tax dollars allowing the water to run all these years while no one at the city was paying attention.

richrs

If he doesn't pay while on diversion then the court accepts his plea, usually no contest, finds him guilty and sends him to prison. Unfortunately the only residents that are eligible for restitution are those that can prove they paid. All involved stand a better chance of getting any money if he atays out. Let's be realistic. This is, I believe, a fifth degree felony, up to 12 months in prison, and only earning $18.00 month as an inmate, whixh only $8.00 per month may be seized to satisfy court costs and restitution doesn't pay much back.

Babo

He was undercharged in the first place as he misappropriated over $200,000 from residents and didn't pay the water bills. That is not only theft but fraud. He should be looking at a Felony 1 or 2 RICO charge for running a corrupt enterprise. Judge Binette seems to understand that he was undercharged as he is aware of the wide harm he caused the community.

slightthroat212

@ Babo...RICO needs two or more people in an ongoing criminal enterprise if I am not mistaken. Not one person in two ongoing criminal enterprises. He has to have an accomplice to have a RICO charge filed INHO...but I am not a cop or a lawyer so we would have to ask.

slightthroat212

@ richrs...why is he being so undercharged to begin with (not that you would have that inside info...lol) but everything else I totally agree with). And wouldn't a jury trial be better. Could they not order his assets seized and ordered sold?

Ralph J.

On another story about Yost, it shows a total amount of taxes owed by Cold Creek is $1,275,491.14. Also a 2008 lawsuit was filed against Westgate Development Co., doing business as Joseph W. Yost III, and several other defendants. Who are the other defendants?

http://www.sanduskyregister.com/...

slightthroat212

isn 't this the guy who screwed up people at that place off Venice Rd with all those new houses too? This guy is two for two isn't he? He does not deserve anything but a jury trial. No deals. He should be judged by a jury of his peers and see what they say. I would think the city would be seizing all his assets and selling them off to offset what he stole and going from there. This guy is a crook. He stole from the rich and the poor: an equal opportunity crook. Take all his stuff and start paying back a community all ready in trouble. Why should his family benefit while everyone else pays the price? Nope, he goes to a jury trial and he pays the price THEY say he gets. And why isn't Baxter doing his own work? Is there a reason he needed to do that? what is it? And good for Ms Cole

Commenter

Cold Creek Crossing. Same Guy. yes. See article link in comment below.

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