Pittsfield jeweler defaults in civil case alleging theft of $120K
PITTSFIELD -- A city jeweler facing criminal charges for allegedly ripping off customers defaulted in a civil case Tuesday and will now be heading for a hearing to determine the amount of damages he owes a local woman.
Mark J. Yannone, of Pittsfield, was scheduled to appear in Berkshire Superior Court for a pretrial hearing on a civil case brought in December 2012 by JoAnne Simms, who alleged she was owed close to $120,000 by Yannone.
According to her civil complaint, she was hired to manage Berkshire Gold & Silver on Elm Street and had brought her "personal jewelry stock" to sell on consignment at the store.
She alleged Yannone gave her three checks totaling $20,000 for the sale of some of her consignment jewelry but the checks bounced and Yannone then refused to pay her.
Yannone also failed to return the rest of her jewelry and her equipment valued at close to $100,000, according to her complaint.
Berkshire Gold & Silver and the adjacent Mark Joseph Jewelers now appear to be closed.
On Tuesday Simms' attorney, Anthony P. Doyle, said he hadn't heard from Yannone, but that notice had been given to him concerning the hearing.
Yannone was representing himself in the case after attorney Alan J. Righi withdrew in November.
Judge Daniel A. Ford found Yannone in default and ordered a hearing for a motion to assess damages in the case. The date hadn't been scheduled as of Tuesday afternoon.
Yannone also is facing 16 criminal charges for allegedly ripping off customers for thousands of dollars by failing to pay for or return jewelry, selling fake gold and filing a false insurance claim. Those charges include 14 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 has denied all charges and remains free on personal recognizance.
The latest charge of larceny by false pretense over $250 came last month via a District Attorney's complaint. The Berkshire District Attorney's Office alleged Yannone failed to pay a woman close to $20,000 for her jewelry he took on consignment.
Among the earlier alleged crimes, which Pittsfield Police said took place between March 20, 2011, and Aug. 13, 2013, he is accused of selling a 35-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, police said.
The woman told police two other jewelers later determined the bar contained no gold.
In another case, police said Yannone promised to sell a 68-year-old Pittsfield man gold he claimed he could get at a reduced price. The man accepted and Yannone cashed a $6,000 check and took 15 gold coins from the man, but never came through with the gold, or returned the cash or coins, according to a Pittsfield Police probable cause report.
Yannone is represented on the criminal matters by attorney Leonard H. Cohen and is due back in court for a pretrial hearing June 9.
Cohen wasn't available for comment on Tuesday.
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