State Appellate Court denies Megos' appeal

A three-judge appellate court panel has upheld the five-year sentence imposed on Norwich businessman Zane Megos in February 2016 for violating his probation by repeating a fraudulent practice of taking a deposit from a prospective tenant for a condemned apartment in Norwich.

In a ruling published Sept. 5 in the Connecticut Law Journal, the three judges ruled that New London Superior Court Judge Omar Williams did not erroneously conclude that Megos had violated his probation when he took a deposit from prospective tenant Nicole Foster for an apartment at 467 N. Main St. that had been condemned at the time. Following a two-day hearing in February 2016, Williams sentenced Megos to serve the full five years of his previously suspended sentence.

Megos had been on probation for previous guilty pleas in 2012 on misdemeanor larceny charges for similar past practices of taking deposits for homes and apartments in Norwich and New London that never became available.

“The trial court did not abuse its discretion in revoking the defendant’s probation and imposing a sentence of 60 months of incarceration,” the 13-page appellate court ruling stated. “That court, which balanced the defendant’s liberty and rehabilitation against the protection of society, found that the defendant was not amenable to probation, based on his similar conduct within months of the start of his probationary period.”

Attorney Kenneth Leary, who filed the appeal on behalf of Megos, said he was “very disappointed” in the ruling and felt the trial judge disregarded testimony of witnesses who said Megos legitimately was planning to rent the apartment to Foster.

Leary said it would be up to Megos whether to seek an appeal with the state Supreme Court, but he acknowledged that would be difficult with a unanimous appellate court ruling. Leary said there is a possibility that Megos could be released early.

According to the state Department of Correction, Megos is incarcerated at the Osborn Correctional Institution in Enfield. If he serves the maximum sentence, he would be released Dec. 3, 2020. He currently is on a risk-reduction, earned credit program in prison, earning a possible five-day-per-month reduction in his sentence. He would be eligible for parole on May 22, 2018.

In the appellate court decision, written by Judge Raheem L. Mullins, the court disagreed with three main arguments Leary made on behalf of Megos. Mullins agreed the Superior Court found evidence that Megos took the $2,925 deposit from Foster and that the situation mirrored past practices in which Megos took deposits for apartments and houses that never became available.

Mullins also said there was evidence that Megos impersonated business partner Bishop Taylor in an effort to avoid using his own name, which was familiar to Norwich city building inspectors.

Mullins also rejected Leary’s argument that Megos did not “willfully” violate his probation, arguing that Megos “engaged in conduct that violated this state’s criminal laws, and therefore, a condition of his probation.”

Megos had been charged by Norwich police with attempted third-degree larceny, criminal impersonation and third-degree forgery in August 2015 after Foster complained to city police about her situation.

Superior Court Judge Williams found no evidence of the forgery charge after Taylor testified at the violation of probation hearing that he had pre-signed blank deposit receipts and gave them to Megos.

Following Williams’ violation of probation ruling and the five-year sentence, the state dropped all of the charges in connection with Foster's case  for lack of a witness, the state prosecution said at the time. But the probation violation ruling remained intact.

c.bessette@theday.com

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