Yost deal surprises many

Sentencing on Thursday; Erie County Judge Roger Binnette must approve plea deal with no jail time, $2,717 in resitution
Register
Jul 6, 2014

Reaction to a plea bargain on theft charges for the former owner of a west-side Sandusky mobile home park was swift Saturday after the Register reported the deal will likely keep Joe Yost out of a jail cell.

Yost collected water payments from tenants at the former Hopper's mobile home park at Tiffin Avenue and Venice Road, but did not use those funds to pay the city for the water bill. He was indicted on two felony theft counts. The deal struck June 16 between Yost and special prosecutor Dean Holman had Yost plead guilty to one misdemeanor count and agree to pay $2,717 in restitution. 

City records show Yost has more than $260,000 in unpaid water bills and hundreds of thousands in other debt from failed development projects and unpaid taxes.

Tenants at the mobile home park were forced to move from it last year after the city shut off the water because the bill wasn't paid, but they're good with the agreement between Holman and Yost for Yost to avoid jail time, Holman said.

Yost is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday. 

The plea deal was agreed to during a hearing last month in Erie County Common Pleas Judge Roger Binnette's courtroom.

"Judge Binette does not have to approve this deal," one reader commented at sanduskyregister.com. 

Other readers raised similar concerns about the agreement. 

"Well I guess the old saying applies here: Those that have get. Those that don't, get the shaft," another reader commented. "Who did this prosecutor ... find from the old park to agree to this? And the city, why (would) the (city) agree to this?"

Another reader reviewed the math. 

"Hold on a minute," he wrote. (Yost) collected and did not pay over $50,000 in water bills and his restitution to the city is $2,700. I sure hope there is more to this story such as a lien on the property for the remaining money. Those are our tax dollars the city is signing off on."

Another reader said the proposed penalty for Yost did not seem equal to the fallout that occurred.

"The city is out thousands of dollars for unpaid water bills. Numerous people lost their homes and he gets a slap on the wrist?" the reader asked. 

Another reader said it didn't make sense. 

"Hard to believe the city would agree to such a meager restitution when the water bill was in the tens of thousands of dollars," the commenter wrote.

Read more comments, or post your own below 

 

Comments

goodtime1212

This man is NOTHING more then a pile of s@$#!!! The city is closing fire stations, but he pay's next to nothing back. I don't understand why everyone agreed to this.

AJ Oliver

There is your "rule of law" - nothing more than a bad joke apparently.

akmed

You can't make thip crap up.
the new manager has his hands full. May the force be with him.

queenjhb

Matt ,please do a [Register Viewpoint] on this , thanks.

xtensionofme

Unbelievable! This man ripped off & destroyed the lives of those people, yet all he gets is less than a slap on the wrist! Have to wonder who he's "doing."

Babo

Judge Binette has the power to deny this plea deal. He CAN reject the plea deal in the interests of justice.

Julie R.

Don't count on Binette. He THRIVES on injustice just like his buddy Baxter.

My Opinion is...

It may go a long way with the Court if residents of Sandusky, especially former residents of the mobile home park, wrote letters to the Court and voiced their outrage at the proposed plea deal. People sitting in the courtroom would probably help as well. Voicing displeasure on the Register website is all well and good, but there's no guarantee the Judge will see the comments. Delivering a letter to the Court citing the case number and Mr. Yost's name would be more effective.

SamAdams

Another day, another miscarriage of justice...

People who did nothing but smoke a little marijuana -- hurting no one but (maybe) themselves -- are jailed for YEARS because they possessed just a tad more than the state seems to think is appropriate for "personal use." And a man who destroyed lives, stole from local taxpayers, jeopardized the health and well being of Sandusky citizens, and who has a RECORD of this kind of thing...pays a couple of grand and is set free as a bird to doubtless do more of the same.

Hello? What's wrong with this picture?

Judge Binette, if you read or hear of these comments, please know that there are plenty of us who would support your refusal to accept this miserable excuse for a plea "bargain." The only one getting the deal HERE is the bad guy!

The Answer Person

How about if ALL Sandusky and Erie County residents don't pay their water bills?

Mum-of-One

4 years of water for $2,717. I'll take that deal.

Ralph J.

"Tenants at the mobile home park were forced to move from it last year after the city shut off the water because the bill wasn't paid, but they're good with the agreement between Holman and Yost for Yost to avoid jail time, Holman said." This statement is hard to believe. How about a list of names of mobile home park tenants who approved or disapproved the agreement by Holman? I don't believe it unless the tenants were paid money to agree to the terms.

Ralph J.

"City records show Yost has more than $260,000 in unpaid water bills" $2,717 in restitution is only about 1% of the water bill owed. What a deal! No wonder Sandusky has so many financial problems. The rich get richer.

tk

This is so disgusting that words fail me. Others in the area who have taken money from churches and organizations have had to pay back larger restitution and got prison time. Where is the justice here?

Commenter

How does this make sense??
How does he get off no jail time, a fine? I am in complete disbelief.

booster

So there you have it. Legal precedent has been set.
Seems that not paying your water bill (no matter now large) is the same crime as stealing a candy bar (or any other item under $500.) When you finally go to court cite the case of City of Sandusky Vs Yost. Expect your 1% restitution and brief probation.

If your water should actually be threatened to be turned off, claim discrimination and unfair treatment due to precedent previously set.

Seems to me that the criminal activity has been rewarded.

Julie R.

You would be amazed at the criminal activity that goes on in Erie County that scum-bags get rewarded for, compliments of Baxter & his cronies at the Erie County courthouse. Like some long-time Norwalk attorney said --- Erie County is more corrupt now than it was back when Maschari was a judge.

Little Giant
Greengiant

Who says crime doesn't pay......

sugar

These jerks throw others in prison for far less! What a corrupt ayst here in Erie County.

Julie R.

If anybody thinks for one minute that Roger Binette gives a rat's arse what people in Erie County think of him, you people must have never dealt with those jokes at that corrupt Erie County courthouse like I did for over 10 years. In unknown cases, they aren't the least bit afraid to show their true character. They not only flaunt their vicious injustice right in your face, they even flaunt right in your face that they don't have to follow the law, knowing there's nothing you can about it.

Babo

This is how Baxter rewards and or protects his friends and it has gone on for over 15 years. Remember Baxter "recused" himself for no reason other than he knows Yost. That's the signal not only that he "knows" Yost and "information" about him; but that Yost "knows" Baxter and "information" about him.

Baxter "hires" Dean Holman as "special prosecutor" even though he has no authority to do so without approval of the Erie County Commissioners, and then uses Holman as his "Charlie McCarthy". The Commissioners go along with this farce as it's good to be assured of having a friendly prosecutor looking out for the political ruling class' interests just in case one of them should get in trouble. (e.g. Harold Butcher). Similarly the common pleas court judges who are supposed to ensure the law of Ohio is followed and refuse to appoint Holman go along for the same reasons.

You can be assured that there was no investigation really done into this matter as should have been done because Icsman the City's lawyer like Baxter doesn't want to expose the cozy deals and self dealing that goes on with public contracts in the city and county either.

Moreover, Sandusky police and the Erie County Sheriff do not have the resources or skill set to investigate white collar crime. That's why these type of cases are supposed to be referred to the AG's office and or the Auditor of State for investigation and prosecution. For example, it would be nice to know what city official turned a blind eye to the water bill delinquencies and probable money laundering.

Holman acting per Baxter's instructions under-indicts Baxter's friend on two low level felonies, even though the facts support a pattern of corrupt activity charge a felony of the first degree and many other counts. I'll bet the indictment was even typed up by Baxter's office and Holman the Medina County Prosecutor in Erie County on Medina taxpayers' time just goes through the motions.

Next, since the Indictment undercharged him in the first place, and the interim city manager/law director for the biggest victim (the city of Sandusky) has his own reasons not to object to the plea deal; Holman again appearing as Baxter's talking dummy offers the misdemeanor plea quietly without media or victims' knowledge. He can state the victims don't object because Icsman is in on it and since there was little to no investigation the many residents displaced are not considered victims.

Yost was smirking in his booking picture for a reason. He knew this matter was handled from the beginning and that the entire process was a dog and pony show for the same reasons that none of the contractors with the housing grants were ever prosecuted and that Baxter's private company was able to hose the city and county on taxes.

JT Adams St

Questions: (1) Why doesn't Icsman want to object to the deal? (2) How did Yost manage to run up such massive bills before the water was cut off? I've never understood that. (3) Has the City Commission signed off on this deal? Don't they represent one of the victims? (4) What does the mayor have to say about this? (5) Does this mean that if I stole a police cruiser, I would get a $500 fine and no jail time?

Babo

(1) Icsman as interim City Manager and City Law Director was responsible for allowing the water bills to go unpaid and would have agreed to this plea deal. His reason for agreeing to the deal and thereby sweeping this mess under the rug range from he doesn't want his incompetence exposed to he receives some benefit from businesses and people such as Yost who he allows to profit from city assets.

(2) See #1. Icsman is either incompetent or receiving some benefit from men like Yost to look the other way.

(3) City Commission does not have to sign off the deal. Icsman as interim City manager and Law director would represent the City as a victim. Victims have the right to speak and object at sentencing but it looks like Icsman already told Holman the deal is acceptable to the City. Citizens ought to be complaining to and asking questions of City Commission about the lack of oversight by Icsman and the extreme favoritism being shown Yost.

(4) Mayor Murray represented the private business interests of Prosecutor Baxter when his company was able to avoid paying over $200,000 in taxes after benefitting from close to a million in government handouts because Baxter hand selected a special prosecutor to review himself and found nothing wrong. So my guess is Mayor Murray admires this plea deal as it benefits somebody who could potentially expose a lot of things he'd rather keep quiet.

(5) No, as you are not a member of a privileged group in Erie County. You would have the proverbial book thrown at you.

JT Adams St

With respect to no. 2, did somebody responsible for billing raise the issue of Yost's unpaid bills, and they were told don't worry about it, or do we still not know what happened? Does the city commonly allow businesses to run up unpaid water bills of tens of thousands of dollars? Or, are only certain businesses given that preferential treatment? If so, who decides?

Babo

A public records request would answer your questions. I find it hard to believe that the books are not reconciled every year and that the director of finance would not raise arrearages to the law director to attempt recovery, especially with the city's budget problems.

During my experience with a public board with a budget larger than that of Sandusky, we received a finance report every month. A $260,000 debt would have been scrutinized and action taken to recovery the debt.

JT Adams St

So the Register has never provided the whole story as to how Yost was allowed to amass a water bill of a quarter-of-a-million dollars? Matt Westerhold, is this true?

Ralph J.

LIKE!

big_d

I find this upsetting. If I had stolen over a quarter million dollars in services from Erie county, not to mention taking money tendered in good faith by tenants for a service, I would be in jail. What power does this guy have over people? No restitution, felonies reduced to a misdemeanor, as if he had simply shoplifted. If he can do this, why should anyone in this county pay their water bill? They can't shut off everybody's can they? That would get someones attention.

dorothy gale

Yes! This is a great idea! I think every homeowner in the city should just stop paying the water bill. This "deal" makes it apparent that the water bill is just a suggested donation!

T. A. Schwanger

###

What has not been reported on is the 51 building lots Yost owned in the Cold Creek Crossings Development off Venice Road and now in the City's Land Bank Program.

The City wiped $1.4 million in "infrastructure assessment payments" to the City from Yost and potential lot owners. The assessments are now being paid thru City funds.

ITEM #3 ‐Feb 24, 2014
APROVING AND ACCEPTING 51 PARCELS (Cold Creek Crossings) THROUGH THE LAND REUTILIZATION PROGRAM:::
Budgetary Information: The cost of this acquisition will be approximately four thousand three dollar and fifty cents ($4,003.50) which includes title exams, title fees, recording fees and transfer fees, of which the city will recoup upon sale. The taxing districts will not collect the $268,774.37 owed in delinquent property taxes, nor the $60,070.82 owed in penalties and interest, totaling $1,460,761.30. The city will not collect the $1,119,481.94 owed to the city for special assessments nor the $10,434.60 owed to the city for weed cutting. However, upon sale, the city will be able to recoup some of the delinquent special assessments and will save
$10,434.60 a year or more in weed cutting. By returning this non‐productive land to tax producing status, the taxing districts will begin collecting approximately $28,075.94 yearly in real estate taxes in the short term, for which the tax base will build as it becomes fully developed in the long term. The city will begin collecting
approximately $146,753.65 in yearly special assessments that will continue on a gradual declining scale until 2028.

Ralph J.

LIKE!

Julie R.

Geez, if that's true that the city wiped 1.4 million in "infrastructure assessment payments" to the city from Yost on the 51 building lots Yost owned in the Cold Creek Crossings Development, I would have to say Yost getting a pat on his wrist and a pat on his fat you-know-what for stealing the water payments of the former tenants at the former Hopper's mobile park is sort of like a "red herring" ---- the city is covering up a more serious issue by going with the lesser one.

deertracker

Agreed! Yost knows where all the bodies are buried so no one is going to bother him.

Ralph J.

Now is the time for a Federal investigation and I mean agents from Washington DC. This is becoming another Cuyahoga County. Look at Sandusky County, Ottawa County and Holman's Medina County. Time for a Federal raid. Think back on Sandusky's housing scandal that cost millions and was swept under the rug. Nobody was prosecuted in that scandal. WHY? I know why. Others have their heads in the sand. Then they beat up Julie R. for her problems with the probate court. FEDERAL INVESTIGATION NOW!

Ralph J.

Yost owes $1.5 million Cold Creek Crossing tax bill, water bill add up to a chunk of cash for west-side developer
http://www.sanduskyregister.com/...

queenjhb

Maybe Dean Holman will pay off his debt , after all he is so sympathetic to the tax payers that have to cover this debt. Hey, Dean want to cover my water bills for a few years?

WhatTheHeck

So, how long was this sleazy tax evasion, property acquisition and that includes Hoppers property deal in the works? This don't happen unless you have the blessingg of those who lead. Great example of obstruction of justice.

twosenseworth

I don't understand how the city can be good with this proposed agreement. They certainly know how much water was delivered, and they also know how much money wasn't paid in exchange for the water, so why would they agree to anything less than full restitution? It makes me wonder why I bother to pay my water bill every month when they allow this Yost cover-up to simply go away. You really have to wonder what dirty dealings are behind this, which involve Yost, the city, the county, and the people who are "good" with Holman's plan.

Little Giant

Who at the city allowed the water bill to get to 260K in the first place?

JT Adams St

Excellent question, which apparently is going to go unanswered. Only black women, not from this area, are held accountable for the city's problems. The Register's investigation of this issue must have been sidetracked by breaking Barge Party news.

Ralph J.

CHARGES FOR WATER/SEWER "All consumers shall be monthly customers and the charges for water/sewer service shall be payable monthly." Yost got a free pass on this. Look for Sandusky to raise water rates or increase the income tax to pay for the 99% remainder of Yost's water bill. Who pays for his unpaid taxes? You do by way of increased property taxes.
http://www.ci.sandusky.oh.us/fin...

Ralph J.

"Will I get a credit for a toilet, faucet, etc. leak?
Response: The City of Sandusky gives partial credit for underground leaks only. This leak does not classify as an underground leak and no credit will be applied. You will want to get the leak fixed as soon as possible." Yost got a 99% credit for not paying his bill.
http://cityofsandusky.com/financ...

tk

If you want to be a crook in Erie County, go big. The penny ante stuff will land you in prison. Steal in the hundreds of thousands and you will get a free pass.

Ralph J.

"The city claims they didn’t cause the problem, but the city sure compounded the problem by allowing the water bill debt to go on for five years and ignoring the many red flags such as bankruptcy and failure to pay property taxes on the part of the owner. The excuse of why the city allowed the water debt to accumulate was that it was a humanitarian situation" Seems like a lot of people posting comments like to beat up on Sharon.
http://www.sanduskyregister.com/...

Babo

Thanks for posting the link to Sharon's column that stated the reason the city did not shut off the water was for "humanitarian reasons". The solution years ago would have been to go directly to the Park's residents and told them to pay the water bills directly to the city, bypassing Yost.

Ralph J.

You are welcome. I know that the "humanitarian reasons" phrase was not true or in good faith. The city should have gone to the tenants to get the money for water or put the money into an escrow account similar to paying rent to an escrow account. Heads should roll at city hall. Humanitarian reasons? Where were the "humanitarian reasons" when the tenants were kicked out of their homes on short notice by the city? Once again the poor suffer and the rich become richer. Sandusky acted like a big bully to the tenants by shutting off their water and forcing them out of their homes. The logical thing to do was to keep the water on to the park and start collecting water fees directly from the tenants. That would be simple and logical. The poor people get punished and Yost gets 99% of his water bill forgiven. Here is a tip to the Sandusky Register. Contact all of the evicted tenants and see who supported Holman's deal.
http://www.sanduskyregister.com/...
http://www.sanduskyregister.com/...
http://www.sanduskyregister.com/...

Babo

Aha! Thanks for sharing all those links. I now understand why the city is not objecting to the plea deal. There is likely some sort of quid pro quo involving Yost waiving any interest in the land.