PITTSFIELD -- A local jeweler was arraigned Friday on another criminal charge, this time in connection with allegedly selling a woman a fake bar of gold for $25,000, failing to deliver $20,000 more in gold, and not returning three rings she had on consignment.

In Central Berkshire District Court, Mark J. Yannone, 30, of Onota Lane pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of larceny over $250 by single scheme before Judge Fredric D. Rutberg. Yannone remains free on personal recognizance.

According to the Pittsfield Police, Yannone, who owns Berkshire Gold & Silver and the now-closed Mark Joseph Jewelers on Elm Street, sold last summer what he alleged was a 19-ounce gold bar to an acquaintance, a 34-year-old city woman. The gold turned out to be fake.

In a Pittsfield probable cause report, Detective John Gray wrote the item was "clearly made to look like a gold bar," but that its bottom "was beginning to peel and flake, revealing that under the gold finish was a white-colored substance."

According to what the woman told police, she eventually had two other jewelers appraise the bar earlier this year after learning that Yannone had been "gambling and engaging in other questionable behavior." It was allegedly determined the bar contained no gold.

Police said Yannone also took $20,000 from the woman with promises of more gold, but failed to deliver. He also allegedly took three of the woman's rings on consignment. The rings were said to be worth more than $33,000, but the woman received $22,500. Yannone kept the rings, according to police.

Police said the woman's friend, a 34-year-old from Pittsfield, gave Yannone $25,000 for gold bars she never received. He is facing another felony larceny charge in that case.

His criminal lawyer, Leonard H. Cohen, said his client denies the charges.

In January, Yannone was the defendant in a Suffolk Superior Court civil case that settled out of court. No further information was available on that case by press time.

Yannone is also the defendant in a civil case in Berkshire Superior Court involving another woman who is asking for more than $100,000 she said is owed her for jewelry she had on consignment with Yannone but was never paid for.

Yannone is scheduled to be back in district court in June.

To reach Andrew Amelinckx:
aamelinckx@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6249.
On Twitter: @BETheAmelinckx