Yost goes to jail

Prosecutor called out; anger simmers as ousted Hopper's residents make statements at sentencing
Courtney Astolfi
Jul 11, 2014

astolfi@sanduskyregister.com

Joe Yost is behind bars.

Though the convicted thief didn't get as harsh a punishment as many of his former tenants hoped, some residents were satisfied Yost must now serve at least some jail time and give back to the community from which he stole.

On Thursday, Erie County Common Pleas Court Judge Roger Binette sentenced the owner of the now-defunct Hoppers mobile home park to 180 days in jail — the maximum sentence Ohio law allows for Yost's single misdemeanor theft charge.

Watch the sentencing hearing in the player below

Yost, 68, is required to serve 90 of those days in the Erie County jail and may have to serve the additional 90 days if he violates his probation. He'll also have to serve 500 hours of community service — 250 in a food kitchen and 250 in a homeless shelter.

Yost's sentencing hearing came after a tumultuous year for the roughly 30 households who called the the Hopper's mobile home park at Tiffin Avenue and Venice Road home.

The residents paid Yost for their water bills, Yost failed to pass those payments on to the city.

The park's water access was shut off last August as a result — its residents ousted from their homes and a close-knit community scattered to the wind.

A handful of those residents gathered together again at Yost's Thursday hearing, expressing their frustration and asking Binette for various penalties.

Ultimately, Binette opted against the jail-free sentence special prosecutor Dean Holman and defense attorney Jonathan Blakely recommended when Yost pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor last month.

Thursday's sentencing hearing was rife with drama.

Both Dennis Murray and Dick Brady, speaking as Sandusky city commissioners, voiced displeasure with the totality of the circumstances of Yost's actions and the ensuing legal process.

Holman later admonished Brady, saying he was “grandstanding” and calling his statements “shameful.”

One tenant was tossed from the courtroom after she interjected during Holman's comments about how she was not paying her bills.

“I have my receipts and that's a lie,” she said as she was being escorted out.

When Blakely made a statement about Yost installing new water meters, the group of tenants burst out into laughter, prompting a reprimand from Binette.

There were no outbursts from Yost however — he sat quietly in his chair, hands folded for most of the hearing.

Rather than reading it himself, Blakely instead read a lengthy statement Yost prepared in his own defense. During those comments, Blakely cited Yost's supposed numerous business contributions to the area.

“I take pride in being a productive citizen in our community,” Blakely read on Yost's behalf.

When it came time for Yost to speak, he uttered only a few lines:

“Truly I feel bad for the tenants who were paying and how this all transpired, but the economics of the whole park wouldn't let this continue. It just wasn't working,” Yost said.

Binette later weighed in, but his comments were not nearly as abbreviated.

“You just stopped paying the water bill because that is what you wanted to do. One resident...indicated that before you took over the mobile home park, her water bill was $20 a month, but afterwards, it was $45 a month. And you told her basically 'I can do what I want',” Binette said.

The judge also rattled off a long list of poor business practices Yost appears to have engaged in over the years.

“You try to get your way, you try to control people and control situations around you under your terms. That's not how we live in society. It's called responsibility and accountability,” Binette said.

He told Yost he was blaming everyone but himself: the bank, the city, the tenants, the media.

Blakely tried to make a case for a more lenient penalty, emphasizing Yost's age and nearly destitute financial situation.

But Binette called out those claims—pointing out Yost's current residence in a $260,000 home in a posh lakeside neighborhood.

After the sentence was handed down, Blakely voiced his concern about Yost's inability to pay.

The defense attorney then referred to Yost's three years of probation, saying “And (Yost will) be...not a young man.”

“There were some people who were not a 'young man' living in the trailer park,” Binette said, referring to the elderly tenants, disabled people and children who were forced from their Hoppers homes.

Some of those tenants spoke with the Register after the hearing.

They were pleased Yost has to serve Sandusky residents and “see how the other half lives.” They were also pleased with Binette's sentencing decision and a few city officials who tried to help along the way.

But when it comes to Yost, they're still resentful—and in their minds, justifiably so.

Said one: “It's still not enough, it will never be enough.”

— GO TO JAIL, GO DIRECTLY TO JAIL

Erie County Common Pleas Court Judge Roger Binette handed down Joe Yost's sentence on Thursday, which included a variety of requirements and penalties:

• 90 required days in the Erie County jail, which began immediately after his sentencing hearing.

• If Yost violates his probation or fails to pay restitution within three years, he must serve 90 additional days in jail.

• A $1,000 fine, the maximum financial penalty Ohio law allows for a first-degree misdemeanor theft charge.

• Restitution of $2,717.17—the amount investigators said they were able to prove Yost stole.

• Three years of probation.

• 500 hours of community service within two years of his release from jail. Binette ordered Yost serve 250 hours at a Sandusky food kitchen and 250 hours at Volunteers of America (Crossroads homeless shelter) on Superior Street.

• A full-time, verifiable job. For every week Yost is not employed, he must submit 14 job applications.

• Yost's probation cannot be transferred outside of Erie County, unless Binette orders otherwise.

• Yost will pay court costs and a supervision fee of $10 per month.

— HE SHOULD KNOW BETTER

Five former Hoppers mobile home park residents addressed the court before Joe Yost was sentenced:

Tina Hall: "He needs a good dose of humility….let's see if he can't at least help humanity."

Brian Tucker: "My family are not and never will be OK with Mr. Yost of robbing us of not only our money but our house."

Bonita Scroggy, speaking for herself and husband Paul: "We lost our homes, our stability…I think he needs jail time because at the end of the day, even if he does community service, he gets to go home to his home and he put us out of our homes."

Olivia Scisinger: "He threw everybody out and left them on the street and didn't care."

Heather Tucker: "He put families out on the street because of his choice not to pay bills, while my family paid ours. This is not Joe Yost's first property scandal and a person of his age knows better and doesn't care."

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Comments

MrSandusky

So now the next question (well one of the next questions) should be who is going to investigate this Dean Holman character? Seems that he is always called in as a "special prosecutor" and it almost always leads to some controversy. Maybe the SR will take a look at this man, and his connections with Baxter.

Babo

The tenants and city leaders (including Murray and attorney) who claim they were not consulted can file a grievance on Holman with the Disciplinary Counsel in Columbus.

he said she said

"nearly destitute financial situation". "Yost's current residence in a $260,000 home in a posh lakeside neighborhood".

Maybe he should live in a homeless shelter and eat from the soup kitchen like a real destitute person does and sell his house to pay the water department.

dorothy gale

AGREE!

j88

I'm in no way defending him, I don't like the guy one bit but he's renting that place and hasn't once paid on time. surprise surprise.

rICKrOSS3

This is a joke! Matt I would really like to know what you can find out about this. Sounds very Sandusky Countyish! Is this guy just another dirtbag that knows bankruptcy court way better than us or is this just another backroom payoff deal for Erie County?

MrSandusky

Wait for the news release from the city saying they will be increasing the water rates here soon... The money has to come from somewhere...

Little Giant

Maybe the IRS should get involved? Yost did not keep record of the payments. Clear case of tax evasion.

Darkhorse

Heard that increasing the water rates is already on the to do list for this year sometime. Someone has to pay for the loss. What does Yost live on when his social security check is only $1,700 and he pays $1,000 in rent and about $600 on medication? Does he have money stashed someewhere that no one knows about because the math doesn't add up. If he is broke, how can he afford paying rent of $1,000 a month? He should get a cheaper place to live. The Judge wants him to look for a job and send in 14 applications a week. That is a lot of applications a week.

UJagoff

He screwed the City for $260k and charged the tenants more than what was owed. So 90 days is about $2800. A day! Probably stole more than that! And restitution of less than 1%. Not a bad deal!!!! I'll take that. Come see me in October we can still go to that Halloween party!

Ralph J.

Actually the $260K was included in the rent that the Hopper's residents paid to Yost. Yost kept the water payment portion ($260K) in his pocket. The city screwed themselves for allowing the unpaid water bill to go on for years. Yost was stealing the water portion of the rents paid for years and the city allowed it. The real victims were the Hopper's residents who lost everthing and Sandusky acting like a big bully kicked the residents out of their homes. The city could have left the water on for the Hopper's residents allowing the residents to make water payments directly to the city. Somebody wanted that now vacant parcel of really bad. It was all orchestrated.

Julie R.

"The city could have left the water on for Hopper's residents allowing the residents to make water payments directly to the city. Somebody wanted that now vacant parcel of really bad. It was all orchestrated."

Excellent. That's exactly what I said. It also will be real interesting to see "who" wanted that now vacant parcel really bad.

JT Adams St

Fortunately, unlike the city, Judge Binette and his staff were on top of this case. It's amazing that in spite of having a highly paid law director, the city was incapable of effectively communicating to the prosecutor that it was opposed to the plea deal. After watching the sentencing hearing, I actually felt sorry for the prosecutor that he was sucked into this swamp of incompetence. No doubt the Register and Murray can explain how this was all Niocle Ard's fault. After all, white guys don't make mistakes.

Babo

I don't believe the city leaders were truly opposed to the plea deal as the city had a long time to reveiw the work done by the police department on this case and did not object. If city leaders were not infomed then it's another reason to terminate Icsman as law director because he should have sought to recover the arrearages years ago. Also, I think Murray and Brady were politically grandstanding.

Ralph J.

Canceled Debts
In most cases, if a debt you owe is canceled or forgiven, other than as a gift or bequest, you must include the canceled amount in your income. You have no income from the canceled debt if it is intended as a gift to you. A debt includes any indebtedness for which you are liable or which attaches to property you hold.
http://www.irs.gov/publications/...
http://www.irs.gov/publications/...

Ralph J.

Would Holman's unnamed Hopper's residents be considered manufactured evidence? How about held back evidence? Did Holman share the names of the Hopper's residents who agreed to the lesser charges with the defense lawyer?

T. A. Schwanger

###

Unfortunately Yost's legacy will continue for years to come and Sandusky taxpayers will foot the bill.

From Sandusky City Commission minutes::::::
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.

DickTracey

How long will the buyer have to pay the infrastructure assessment of $1,400 a year, on a lot in Cold Creek?

That's a hefty fee in an already over priced subdivision, that is in a bad end of town, crappy school district and closed fire station.

The few people that built there are already (trying) selling their homes to get out.

Coach525

When Marie and her family ran the park and the laundromat that park was clean and safe Sure every park has it's problems but it's sad I know the person who was living in one of the trailers had no where to go and no one to take her in She tried to move to Florida to be with distant family but is now is a nursing home and will NEVER GET OUT she is now in her own personal jail because of him She was living just fine on her own I will never see her again because she can't travel back Ge gets off easy and she lost her home get dog and her freedom

Julie R.

Once again, this was a scam from the get-go. All you have to do is look back at the dozens & dozens of other cases in Erie County to see that. That Harris woman got charged with multiple (felony) counts ~ wasn't Holman the special prosecutor on that, too? ~ for stealing $40 thousand from her elderly aunt and got 5 years with no early release. This Sandusky slumlord steals $260 thousand and only gets charged with a misdemeanor and doesn't even get the maximum sentence of 180 days on that. I'm also willing to bet he won't even serve the 90.

The Answer Person

If they need to raise the water rates, that is fine with me. They are very reasonable in the city.

SamAdams

"Reasonable" rates isn't the point. The POINT is that the City let somebody get more than a quarter of MILLION dollars behind on his water bill! I'll bet that money would have gone a long way toward KEEPING our rates so reasonable, don't you think?

Babo

Yet you want to put people in prison for pointing out this miscarriage of justice.

Dcfred20036

The sentencing was a travesty, and the community has a right to be outraged. Judges are elected in Ohio, right? This judge needs to be defeated the next time he runs. This individual did not only keep money he was not entitled to keep, but his actions resulted in many vulnerable people being hurt, losing their homes. From where I am located, he should have received at least 18 months in prison.

tk

From what I saw, Judge Binette was the most honorable person in that courtroom. Judge Binette could only sentence Yost for what he was charged with, not what we all wished he had been charged with.

Julie R.

Honorable? I could say plenty about that but I'll refrain.

Dcfred20036

Yost should serve the maximum sentence allowed. The message it sends to the community is terrible.

Babo

Judge Binette could have vacated the plea deal for fraud on the court once he learned from City leaders and former tenants that Holman had mislead the court at the change of plea hearing. He also could have removed Holman for that alleged misconduct and appointed a new special prosecutor from the AG's office to review the case.

Ralph J.

LIKE

Julie R.

Ralph J. is right on target. This whole thing was orchestrated right from the start, including that joke misdemeanor charge. Also, don't think for one minute that old pr*** wasn't given plenty of time to hide his assets, just like Baxter and his rich old buddies did with that ferry boat business.

Erie County Resident

The part that puzzles me is why is the city forgiving the rest of the $260,000. that this clown owes? Guess they never heard the term foreclose or forfeit property before other than picking up a few nickles he dropped.
The people of Sandusky and especially the ones he screwed over by losing their homes are the losers in this.
Hope Baxter is real proud of NOT doing his job and protecting his buddy. He definetly is one of them after doing the same to all county residents.

Julie R.

So why did Binette have one of the victims escorted out of the courtroom for calling Baxter's bro prosecutor Dean Holman a liar? After all, sure didn't see Binette reprimand bro Holman when he lied about the tenants "being good" with that joke misdemeanor charge.

DickTracey

Julebeth, you better becareful what you say. I have heard on the street, that your sister in hate, your protege, Babo, aka Elsebeth, has gotten in trouble and violated her probation order.

She has been harassing and defaming prosecutors and judges online in these blogs, and I see that she was passing out her propaganda at Bratton's sentencing.

These are reasons I believe the rumor, of course it could be just a rumor.

Ralph J.

The Cuyahoga County docket doesn't show any probation condition prohibiting EB from criticizing prosecutors and judges and even if there were such a condition it would be unconstitutional. Case number 478555.

Babo

Interesting that Sam and you have no problems criticizing other prosecutors, judges and LEO's in the area but are quick to distract from Baxter's and Holman's alleged ethical problems.

Ralph J.

Holman kept the names of those tenants being good with the lenient charge a secret. WHY? I know why.

Julie R.

Babo was Elsebeth? If so, I can see why the jokes in corrupt Erie and Ottawa County were afraid of her!

SamAdams

Julie, you use the term "was" Elsebeth. Past tense. Interesting... Is there something you'd like to share with the rest of us about your partner in paranoia? Inquiring minds want to know!

Julie R.

Duh, I used the word "was" because DickTracey said (quote) Babo aka Elsebeth has gotten in trouble for violating her probation order, (unquote) so I took that to mean she's not allowed to make any comments anymore so wouldn't common sense say if she isn't making comments anymore that I would say: "Babo was Elsebeth?" instead of "Babo is Elsebeth?"

As for my partner in paranoia (????) are you trying to insinuate that I know Ms. Baumgartner? If so, sorry, but other than what I and plenty of others have read about her, I do not know the lady. On the other hand, if Babo really was ...... oops, sorry ..... I mean if Babo really is Elsebeth, I LIKE her. She certainly is (notice I used the word is) smart when it comes to the law and I was really disappointed when I saw no comments from her about that JOKE misdemeanor charge of Yost's that Baxter's broprosecutor Dean Holman got away with.

Julie R.

Hey DickTracey, you lied to me and I actually believed it. Chalk one up for you, sweetheart!

Julie R.

In today's Register Viewpoint all the blame for Yost getting away with pleading to that joke misdeameanor charge is being placed at the feet of Dean Holman. It says that Holman not only lied when he said the tenants were good with that charge but he also lied about the city.

All I can say for that is ---- the city of Sandusky has a leader from a Sandusky law firm where 7 lawyers, including himself, were named "Ohio's 7 Super Laywers of the Year" and this Holman is going to lie about the city, i.e. a Murray? Yeah, right.

Once again, this was a scam from the get-go and the court was in on it, too.

Julie R.

Register Viewpoint

Hohlman: Go home; don't come back.

(that is, until the next Eeerie County scam)

Babo

The SR really needs to start holding Baxter to the same standards and subjecting his actions to the same scrutiny to which they hold Stierwalt in Sandusky County. The only reason Holman is allowed to act in this county is because Baxter, the Commissioners and the judges allow him to act as a special prosecutor and his asssignment is never questioned.