HUDSON — A woman and her son, both of Stockport, pleaded not guilty Thursday in Columbia County Court to charges that they allegedly conspired to steal thousands of dollars from an elderly man they know.
Jeffrey Yeh, 51, and his mother, Annette Loos, 75, were charged with second-degree forgery, a class D felony; endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person, a class E felony; two counts of fourth-degree grand larceny, a class E felony; and two counts of criminal possession of stolen property, a class E felony; and third-degree computer tampering, a class E felony.
Yeh was also charged with computer trespass, a class E felony, and six additional counts of fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property.
Yeh and Loos were arraigned after Columbia County Judge Richard Koweek opened a sealed indictment in county court.
Loos and Yeh, who live together at their home in Stockport, are accused of taking money from an elderly man whom they know and using a computer to steal funds.
Few details of the alleged offenses are outlined in the indictment handed up in county court. But the indictment does allege that, in 2018, the two stole funds in excess of $1,000.
Loos is facing similar charges in Albany County, according to court documents. Loos was charged with two counts of fourth-degree grand larceny, a class E felony, and petty larceny, a class A misdemeanor, according to court documents filed in Colonie Town Court. She is scheduled to reappear in Colonie Town Court on June 26.
The allegations were made based on a police investigation and a supporting deposition from the victim in 2016. Loos allegedly withdrew $7,000 from a Bank of America account belonging solely to the alleged victim without authorization. The case is pending.
The alleged victim in the Columbia County case is the same individual in the Albany County case, Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka said in court Thursday.
Yeh and Loos were released without bail on the condition that they were booked at the state police barracks in Livingston within the hour. Yeh and Loos complied.
Czajka said he did not believe the two posed a flight risk, and deferred the issue of bail to the court. He added that if the court chooses to release Loos and Yeh, he would have no serious objections.
“Although the people concede that Jeffrey Yeh, formerly Orendack, has an extensive criminal history, including at least five felony convictions in several different jurisdictions, he has been appearing in this court without delay and without exception for every appearance.”
Yeh’s most recent conviction occurred more than a decade ago, said defense attorney Trey Smith, who is representing Yeh.
Yeh’s next scheduled court appearance is Oct. 15 at 1 p.m. for pretrial hearings. Loos is expected to reappear Monday morning at 9 a.m. to discuss a change of counsel because the Columbia County Public Defender’s Office is disqualifying itself from the case over a possible conflict with a separate case.
A trial expected to take two weeks is scheduled to begin Jan. 27.
If Yeh is convicted, he could be considered a persistent felon and face up to 15 years to life in prison, Koweek said.
“The frivolous charges the DA has imposed after being asked to recuse himself multiple times for conflicts of interest will not stop the mission of the Columbia County Citizens Action Network,” Yeh said. “In fact, it does the opposite and allows us to strengthen together with multiple organizations.”
Columbia County Citizens Action Network is a web page on the social media website Facebook, which Yeh uses to make accusations about alleged misconduct by Columbia County officials and police.
In a letter to Czajka dated June 3, Smith requested Czajka, a Republican, recuse himself because of a blog post that was shared by the Columbia County Republican Facebook page detailing Yeh’s criminal history. Smith said there is no conclusive proof, but the office could not avoid the appearance of impropriety as it would be “the prime suspect.”
In court, Smith said he will file a motion seeking a special prosecutor.
“I will respond to a motion when and if it is made,” Czajka said later.
When asked to comment on the case, Czajka said, “We’re treating this as any routine case in which a five-time felon and his mother have allegedly been stealing from an older, disabled person.”
Smith is Yeh’s third attorney on the case. In a court appearance on May 21, before a grand jury was about to resume on Yeh’s case, defense attorney Greg Lubow disqualified himself, saying Yeh was unwilling to accept his professional expertise.
Yeh sought legal advice from other attorneys known to him, and those attorneys undermined and interfered with the attorney-client relationship between Lubow and Yeh, according to court documents.
Czajka accused Yeh of deliberately delaying the case and requested the court to move the case forward on behalf of the ailing alleged victim.
“[Yeh] has been purposely manipulating the system to delay his ultimate prosecution, admitting, of course, that he is presumed to be innocent, all for the purpose of taking advantage of the ill health of his victim, of which he has personal intimate knowledge.” Czajka said in court May 21.
Koweek told Yeh he would not rule out allowing him to represent himself in the future.
On the same day he was arraigned, Yeh filed a criminal complaint with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office alleging that his home was vandalized on June 5. Sheriff’s Lt. Wayne Lopez confirmed Wednesday that there is an investigation into the alleged vandalism but would not comment further, saying the investigation is ongoing.
In the complaint, Yeh alleges that someone painted the words “Fag Boom Die Yeh Corrupt Ends” on a tarpaulin covering the rear of his home.
“Mr. Yeh had found obscene writing on the outside of his house. It had been painted and there was a slur word on it,” Smith said in court Thursday. “He reported that to the sheriff’s office. I believe what happened to him this morning was a direct result of his expression of his First Amendment Rights, in regards to the District Attorney and other public officials in Columbia County.”
To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.