Sunday June 23, 2013

PITTSFIELD -- Police have filed five more criminal charges against a local jeweler who's already facing charges in connection with allegedly taking in cash and gold but never paying customers in return.

Pittsfield Police filed the newest felony charges for larceny over $250 against Mark J. Yannone, 31, of Pittsfield, who they allege took several people's jewelry on consignment, then either didn't pay them or return the jewelry. In another case, Yannone allegedly took cash and gold coins from a customer to buy gold at a reduced price but never came through with the goods.

According to the police, Yannone, who owns Berkshire Gold & Silver and the now-closed Mark Joseph Jewelers on Elm Street, was already facing two other felony larceny charges for similar behavior involving two other victims.

After two articles on the case appeared in The Eagle, detectives began receiving other reports of similar activity involving Yannone dating back to 2011, according to a probable cause report.

An investigation by Police Detective John Gray resulted in the new charges being late last week in Central Berkshire District Court. Yannone is scheduled to be in court on July 15 to face the charges.

His attorney, Leonard H. Cohen, did not immediately return a phone call.

Police say that a 49-year-old woman who now lives in Pennsylvania gave Yannone two wedding bands to sell on consignment in 2011. She said she never received money or the rings back and is allegedly owed $1,845.

In February 2012, a 36-year-old city woman allegedly gave Yannone a class ring and two bands with rubies and diamonds worth $3,300 to sell. Police say she never got the money or the rings back.

A 32-year-old Lanesborough man told police he was out $11,000 after giving the defendant two rings to sell on consignment back in April 2012 and never receiving the money or the rings, according to the report.

In July 2012, a 41-year-old Dalton woman allegedly gave Yannone an engagement band and a wedding ring valued at between $4,000 and $5,500 to sell. He loaned her $2,000, but never gave her the rest of what the rings had been valued at and kept the rings, say police.

A city man told detectives that in the fall of 2012 Yannone approached him with a proposition to buy gold from "a man in California" who was selling gold at a greatly reduced price. While the 68-year-old at first declined the offer, the man in January gave Yannone a check for $6,000, which was later cashed, and 15 gold coins to sell in order to buy the reduced-price gold, according to police. The man allegedly has yet to see the gold, the cash or his coins, according to the report.

In the two other cases for which Yannone has already been charged and pleaded not guilty, he allegedly sold a woman a fake bar of gold for $25,000, failed to deliver $20,000 more in gold, and never returned three rings she had placed on consignment with him. Police said the woman's friend, a 34-year-old from Pittsfield, gave Yannone $25,000 for gold bars she never received.

Yannone is also the defendant in a civil case in Berkshire Superior Court involving a 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.

A final pretrial hearing is scheduled for next April in the civil case.

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