Published June 25. 2012 1:00PM Updated June 26. 2012 7:04PM
The attorney for Norwich businessman Zane R. Megos told a Norwich Superior Court judge Monday that Megos believed the five larceny charges levied by Norwich police should have been considered civil matters rather than criminal charges for allegedly taking rental and security deposits from people for apartments that were condemned.
Megos, 55, of 31 Dellwood Road, Norwich, was charged Friday by Norwich police with second-degree larceny, third-degree larceny and three counts of fourth-degree larceny following an investigation into more than 10 complaints the department received regarding Megos.
He was held over the weekend on a combined $16,000 cash bond.
During his arraignment Monday, Megos’ attorney Kenneth A. Leary told Judge Hunchu Kwak that his client considered the complaints to be civil matters. In a brief statement, Megos offered to place the money allegedly owed into an escrow account. The amounts owed in the five cases totaled $16,175.
Leary also argued that the bond be reduced, saying Megos has medical issues and is not a flight risk.
“Mr. Megos is a businessman. He’s local. He’s not going anywhere,” Leary said.
But Kwak agreed with the bail commissioner, who said the charges Megos faces are serious and the $16,000 bond is appropriate. The commissioner also noted that the new charges are similar to a 1983 insurance fraud case in which Megos was found guilty of first-degree larceny and given a one-year suspended sentence with three years probation and ordered to pay $17,000 in restitution.
Kwak put Megos on a medical watch and transferred the larceny cases to New London Superior Court for Friday. Kwak also transferred a separate case in which Megos was charged with third-degree assault and breach of peace in a March 24 incident involving a confrontation with Carlos Carrion of Bozrah, who claimed he paid Megos $1,190 for an apartment at 75 Fourth St. which is condemned.
The Day conducted an investigation this spring into numerous complaints that Megos was taking cash security deposits and advanced rent payments for apartments in Norwich and New London that either were condemned or not owned by Megos or his companies.
Two of the alleged victims told Norwich police detectives they came to report their incidents after reading in The Day that police were investigating Megos’ practices.
On May 11, Tara L. D’Attilio told police Detective Darren Powers she saw the stories in The Day and wanted to report that she had paid Megos $7,550 between May and December 2009 as a down payment for a house at 617 Boswell Ave., but then Megos allegedly told her that there was a lien on the house, and the bank would not give him the title.
According to city tax records, the house was owned by Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. at the time.
Megos allegedly told her the bank could hold her money for a year before she could get a refund. In June 2011, she tried unsuccessfully to contact Megos. He later told her he was sick and had been in the hospital. D’Attilio told police she still did not get paid, and gave up. She tried again in January 2012, and he offered to pay $250 to $500 per month to reimburse her. After two $250 payments, however, he stopped paying.
In the third-degree larceny charge, Dawnn M. Harkness told Powers she too saw the articles in The Day and came to police. She said she paid Megos a total of $4,550 in several installments from July to November in 2009 as a down payment on a house at 107 Ocean Ave., New London she had intended to buy. Most of the payments were made at the former Tim Hortons doughnut shop on Route 82 in Norwich — a favorite place for Megos to meet would-be tenants.
The house, however, never became available, and Harkness told police Megos said there was a problem with her credit after he initially said she was “good as gold,” Powers wrote in the warrant.
Police said Megos told her it would take six months to fix her credit, “but he said the house wouldn’t be ready by then anyway.” But in April 2010, a friend told Harkness that someone else was moving into the house at 107 Ocean Ave.
She told police she attempted to get her money back, but Megos claimed the refund check was held up in New Hampshire. When she asked him for the address and offered to drive to New Hampshire to get the check herself, “Megos hung the phone up and she has not heard from him since,” Powers wrote.
The three fourth-degree larceny cases, including Carrion’s case, involved allegations that Megos took apartment deposit money for apartments at 75 Fourth St. and 467 North Main St., both buildings in Greeneville and both condemned, police confirmed with the city Building Department.
Patricia L. Briggs said she contacted Megos in response to an advertisement on Craigslist for an apartment at 467 North Main St., owned by Megos’ business partner Bishop Taylor. Briggs said she had been living in a nursing home in Willimantic and was in a wheelchair and needed a first-floor apartment. But after paying Megos $1,600, the apartment was not ready. Briggs told police Megos was “very upset” when she found another place and asked for her money back.
In the final incident, Racheal E. Perry told police that she and her mother paid Megos $1,785 for the apartment at 75 Fourth St. that never became available.
Powers said he contacted Megos regarding the incident, and he claimed Perry never filled out the proper paperwork to get her money back. “Megos stated in ‘his world’ he could not just give people money back without documentation,” Powers wrote. “He stated there is a process he needs to follow. I advised Megos that Perry claimed she had made numerous attempts to get her money back, and it appeared he had been avoiding her.”