Two collect on court judgments against Norwich landlord

Two people who had paid landlord Zane Megos a deposit for an apartment that never became available received reimbursement from Megos over the weekend, the pair said during a Small Claims Court hearing Tuesday in New London.

Soncherie Silvan and Phillip Dudley said they have been paid in full by Megos. They had each put down $1,000 deposits in October to rent an apartment at 25 Rogers Ave. in Norwich owned by Megos. They were unaware the property had been condemned since 2009, when it had been flooded due to broken pipes.

Megos had given half the money back in November when they found another apartment. They took Megos to court to get the rest back.

In an investigation of Megos' activities, The Day interviewed more than a dozen people who said they had given cash deposits to Megos to rent apartments or purchase homes in Norwich and New London that never became available. Some of the houses are owned by Megos under two company names, while in other cases he allegedly told potential renters and buyers that he was representing the owners.

Norwich police are investigating the claims, and the state Department of Consumer Protection's Trade Practices Division is investigating whether Megos is acting as a real estate agent without a permit. Megos voluntarily surrendered his real estate license in 2006 after a complaint that he allegedly forged a property owner's signature on sales contract documents.

Silvan said she and Dudley received the rest of their deposit on Saturday after they signed a one-page release form that she called "bogus." She said she only signed the paper to get her money.

The "Release and Hold Harmless Agreement" states that all parties had resolved the Small Claims Court case. Megos and business partner Bishop Taylor disputed the return of the money, saying they had paid $655 for "specifically requested repairs," the agreement said, but all parties "admit NO wrong doing but are willing to resolve the matter to each other's satisfaction."

The agreement also said all parties "agree to keep this matter in the strictest of confidence," and would agree to pay the other party's attorney fees if anyone breached the agreement.

Megos' lawyer, Harry Traystman, told The Day earlier this month that Megos will comply with any court order to reimburse prospective tenants. But several others contacted Monday and Tuesday said they have not been reimbursed by Megos. The Day's investigation also showed that even those who win Small Claims cases often have trouble collecting the money.

Following their court appearance Tuesday, Silvan said she was glad her case was resolved, but said she felt bad for others who are still owed money, some as much as several thousand dollars.

"Our only loss is the $200 in court fees," Silvan said.

c.bessette@theday.com

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