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UPDATE 4 p.m. : Joe Yost will spend the next 90 days in jail.
Erie County Common Pleas Court Judge Roger Binette this afternoon sentenced Yost to 180 days in jail, the maximum allowed by law, but suspended half of that sentence. He also ordered Yost to 500 hours of community service, to be carried out within two years following his release from jail. The time is to be split between two organizations: 250 hours in an area homeless shelter and 250 hours in an area food kitchen.
In addition, Yost will be required to secure full-time employment after his release from jail, but if he is not employed, he must prove to the court that he's submitting at least 14 applications per week.
Further, Yost was ordered to pay the $2,717.17 in restitution originally established in the plea deal earlier this year, plus court costs and a $1,000 penalty, the maximum permitted by law.
Check back later for more updates.
UPDATE 2:45 p.m.: Joe Yost is scheduled to be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. Thursday. The Register will livestream the sentencing hearing from the Erie County Courthouse.
The Hoppers mobile home park owner whose actions forced numerous low-income residents from their homes last year pleaded guilty to just one misdemeanor charge in June—and will be sentenced on that charge Thursday.
A special prosecutor has recommended Joe Yost pay just $2,717 in restitution and not be sentenced to jail time, only community-controlled sanctions.
But multiple former tenants are outraged by the plea and some told the Register they weren't consulted prior to the deal.
The city, citing $260,000 in unpaid water bills, shut off water access to the Venice Road park in August, ousting all 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.
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 didn't keep crystal-clear records of the amounts they paid Yost.
During court proceedings earlier this year, Medina County prosecutor Dean Holman, who was assigned as a special prosecutor to Yost's case, named the city of Sandusky as a victim.
But Erie County Common Pleas Court Judge Roger Binette told Holman to give the real victims— the ones from whom Yost stole water payments—a chance to weigh in on Yost's fate.
On June 16, Holman and Yost struck a deal: rather than the two felony theft charges Yost was indicted on, he instead pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor theft. During that hearing, Holman told Binette the city approved of the deal as long as the tenants did—and Holman said the tenants indeed raised no objections to the plea.
However, it appears the prosecution only considered the input of six former Hoppers tenants “because those were the ones who had receipts to prove that they paid water (bills),” Holman told the Register Tuesday.
“None of them objected (to the plea). None of them indicated they had a problem,” Holman said.
Holman refused to name which Hoppers residents he spoke with.
“I'm not going to say what tenants they were,” Holman said.
Multiple tenants, however, told the Register they were not contacted by the prosecutor's office. Those same tenants also said they brought receipts and records to Sandusky police when detectives were investigating the thefts late last year.
“I think it's B.S. I do think he should spend time in jail for this,” said nine-year Hoppers resident Bonita Scroggy.
“We paid him and then we lost our homes. We should get some kind of closure. They never called me before the plea— I didn't get a call until after. I am going to be at the sentencing hearing and I will speak and tell them I do not think its fair,” Scroggy said.
Another resident, Brenda Hosko, shared Scroggy's concerns.
“I showed my records where I paid it and I wasn't even subpoenaed to go to court, only five people were. They only reached out to some,” Hosko said.
“I don't think it's right and I don't think it's fair. I paid for mine, and I got screwed. (Yost) forced people out of homes they lived in all their life."
Brian and Heather Tucker, meanwhile, expressed their frustration with Holman in particular.
“This Dean Holman, he's a joke,” Brian said.
“I think Holman's come down from Medina and just wants to hurry up and get this case out of the way,” Heather said.
“He didn't have no kind of compassion or decency. He was rude, didn't want to hear what I had to say and told me I wasn't the victim, the city was,” Heather said.
The couple went so far as to write a letter to the court, expressing their frustration. Heather said a victim's advocate told her Holman didn't want to deal with her “because she's feisty,” Heather said.
“The advocate said 'She's not feisty, she's mad.' We're mad because we got kicked out on the street and are out all this money,” Heather said.
Yet another tenant, Lisa Spears, weighed in.
“I think he should have more punishment. I know a lot of people want to see him be punished more,” Spears said.
Two other residents—Olivia Scisinger and Tina Hall—attended Yost's plea hearing last month.
Scisinger said she has mixed feelings about the deal.
“I'm happy but I'm not happy with it. Like I'd like to see him go to jail, but I don't think him going to jail is going to learn him a lesson,” Scisinger said.
“He threw us all on the streets and our kids out on the streets—I wanted him to sit behind bars for years, but it's going to be us paying for him to sit in jail with our tax money all over again,” Scisinger said.
“He should have to do community service, I think he'll finally learn a lesson,” Scisinger said.
Hall had a similar view.
“I wish he would've gotten more, but you've got to get what you can. I hope he gets real heavy on the community service, I think the taxpayers have paid enough to the man. At least it'll be done and over with and I can get my life going back again,” Hall said.
Yost's sentencing hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Thursday in Binette's courtroom.
Watch in the player below or live at sanduskyregister.com