PITTSFIELD -- A city jeweler who allegedly scammed customers, including selling a fake bar of gold to a woman for $25,000, pleaded not guilty to 15 charges on Wednesday -- eight more than initially were filed -- and remains free on personal recognizance.
Mark J. Yannone, of Pittsfield, who owns Berkshire Gold & Silver on Elm Street and the now-closed Mark Joseph Jewelers, allegedly ripped off customers for thousands of dollars by failing to pay for or return jewelry, selling fake gold and filing a false insurance claim.
Among the alleged crimes, which took place between March 20, 2011, and Aug. 13 of this year, was selling a 34-year-old woman what he said was a 19-ounce gold bar for $25,000 that turned out to be made of "a white-colored substance" that had been covered in a gold finish.
The woman told police two other jewelers later determined the bar contained no gold.
In another case, Yannone promised to sell a 68-year-old Pittsfield resident gold he claimed he could get at a reduced price and accepted and cashed a $6,000 check and took 15 gold coins from the man, according to a Pittsfield Police probable cause report, but he never came through with the gold, or returned the cash or coins.
Yannone was originally facing seven charges, but eight new charges were generated from grand jury proceedings, according to the Berkshire District Attorney's Office.
Yannone and his attorney, Leonard H. Cohen, appeared before Berkshire Superior Court Judge John A. Agostini on Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to 13 counts of larceny by false pretense and single counts of larceny over $250 from a person 60 years of age or older and filing a fraudulent insurance claim.
He remains free on personal recognizance.
A pretrial conference is scheduled for Feb. 5. Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Mary-Elizabeth Mack is prosecuting the case.
Yannone is also the defendant in a civil case in Berkshire Superior Court. A woman alleges he failed to return or pay her for jewelry she had on consignment with him and is asking for more than $100,000 in damages. That case remains pending.
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