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Editor's note: This version corrects the dates for the New London Superior Court the Norwich Superior Court appearances.
A plea deal offered to Norwich businessman Zane Megos that would reduce felony larceny charges to misdemeanors and give him a suspended prison sentence in several cases involving taking security deposits for unavailable apartments remains open as he faces a new charge that he violated a court order that prohibits him from taking new rental deposits.
New London Superior Court Judge Hillary B. Strackbein told Megos Wednesday that the plea offer for the six larceny charges and other related charges will be continued to Jan. 15 as the New London court awaits documents from Norwich Superior Court on Megos' Dec. 5 arraignment there on his Nov. 15 arrest in Norwich on a charge of violation of a condition of his release.
State's Attorney Michael Kennedy asked the judge Wednesday to reiterate and expand upon the court order that Megos, his family members and any agents representing Megos not be allowed to take any new rental deposits, or engage in any verbal or written lease contracts until the cases are resolved.
Strackbein repeated the order issued in June 2012 by Judge Kevin McMahon following Megos' first arrests for taking deposits for apartments and houses that were condemned, not available or not owned by him.
Strackbein said the order did not apply to existing rents in legally occupied buildings and also would not apply to the sale of properties owned by Megos.
After Friday's arrest, Megos was released in lieu of a $10,000 cash bond. Strackbein said Wednesday that bond and the $15,000 in bonds posted by Megos on the earlier arrests could be used to pay restitution to victims who had paid him rental deposits.
A restitution study done by the court last December confirmed deposits made by seven victims totaling $18,935.
Megos was arrested Friday after a four-month investigation by Norwich police that started in August when an official in the city Planning and Development Department spotted Megos in a discussion with someone in the McDonald's restaurant parking lot on Route 82 in Norwich.
The official took photographs, video and wrote down the license plates of the parties involved.
According to the arrest warrant affidavit, police contacted the party, and the alleged victim told police he had paid an "involved participant" of Megos' $1,500 for an apartment on North Main Street in March. But Megos told him the apartment wouldn't be ready immediately and showed him a different apartment on Fourth Street. The man and his girlfriend preferred the first unit and said they would wait the few weeks for it.
When it did not become available, the alleged victim said he "went back and forth" with Megos and his associate and eventually met twice with Megos and received part of his deposit back. The man is still owed $300, he told police, according to the warrant.
Police then conducted an undercover investigation and engaged in discussions with Megos and an associate to rent a hair salon at 100 Main St. in Norwich, which is condemned. Megos told the undercover officer the rent would be $1,500 a month and either he or his associate would collect the rent.
The officer had made numerous appointments to meet with Megos, but the meetings never took place, and eventually, Megos stopped returning phone calls, the warrant stated.
Megos originally was arrested in June and August 2012 after an investigation by The Day revealed a pattern by Megos of taking deposits for apartments that were condemned or otherwise not available. He also allegedly took deposits for rent-to-own agreements on a house in New London he did not own.
Several would-be tenants have received judgments against Megos in civil or small claims court that remain unpaid.