Zane Megos sentenced to five years for violating probation

Norwich businessman Zane Megos was sentenced to five years in prison Thursday for violation on six charges of violation of probation for taking a deposit in fall of 2014 for a condemned Norwich apartment under circumstances the state prosecutor called similar to Megos’ six larceny convictions in 2014.   

Megos, 58, of 31 Dellwood Road, Norwich, was found guilty of violating his probation by New London Superior Court Judge Omar Williams on Feb. 9 following a two-day hearing.

Williams sentenced Megos to 10 months in prison for each of the six violations, to be served consecutively, for a total sentence of five years. Megos had been incarcerated since the Feb. 9 ruling.

Following the sentence, Megos’ attorney, Kenneth Leary, asked that a bond be set that could free his client if he decides to appeal.

Prosecutor Rafael Bustamante asked that a “substantial bond” be set, suggesting the bond of $60,000 imposed Feb. 9 be retained.

But Williams, citing Megos’ real estate holdings and his “risk of flight” given the prison sentence imposed, increased the cash bond to $300,000.

In announcing his sentence, Williams said Megos had a responsibility as the majority owner of properties he was renting to conduct business in a legal manner, and could have done so with “little effort.”

Instead, Williams said, Megos chose to take advantage of a family in desperate straits — victim Nicole Foster and her family had just lost their home in a fire — taking a $2,925 deposit for an apartment not available for rent.

Williams said the fact that Megos reimbursed the family after she found out the apartment was condemned did not absolve him of the crime.

Megos was charged by Norwich police with attempted larceny, third-degree forgery and criminal impersonation for providing receipts signed by business partner Bishop Taylor.

Following the sentence, Leary said it would be Megos’ decision whether to appeal the sentence to the state Appellate Court.

Leary had asked for a sentence of the 20 days Megos has spent incarcerated already — five days for the initial November 2014 arrest and 16 days since the Feb. 9 guilty verdict.

He said Megos would give up his rental business and pay $3,000 to a victims' fund.

“I don’t agree with the sentence, and I don’t agree with the verdict,” Leary said. “As I said in my statement, he had no intent to violate (his probation).”

The charges of attempted larceny and criminal impersonation remain pending, and Megos is scheduled to appear in New London Superior Court April 1 on those charges.

During the sentencing hearing Thursday, Leary said his client’s actions last fall were “foolish” and “stupid,” given that he was on probation and under scrutiny by Norwich building officials and police.

But Leary said Megos never had any intent to violate his probation, and simply was conducting business as a landlord working in low-income neighborhoods.

But Bustamante said he found it “shocking” that five months into his probation for his April 29, 2014, conviction, Megos was repeating the same practice of taking deposits for apartments that were condemned or otherwise not available.

Bustamante asked the judge to impose his full original suspended sentence of six years in prison.

While Leary had argued Foster’s dispute, as well as the six previous larceny cases, belonged instead in small claims court, one spectator in court Thursday disagreed.

Linda Fouche of Norwich stood at the back of the courtroom to watch the afternoon sentencing hearing.

Fouche’s daughter, Anna Shatzer, won a small claims judgment against Megos’ former company, Meyers and Bailey Investment Corp. on Aug. 2, 2011, for $3,932.

In that case, Shatzer and her roommate, Nicole Curioso, were living in New London when they gave Megos deposits for an apartment at 25 Rogers Ave. in Norwich, a building that has been condemned since January 2009. When the apartment never became available, they sought refunds to no avail.

An investigation by The Day in 2012 found that several people had won small claims or civil court judgments against Megos or his real estate businesses for deposits on apartments or houses that never became available in Norwich and New London.

“I feel relieved that he will be unable to perpetrate this scam in the future,” Fouche said following the sentencing. “Even though my daughter will never see a penny from her small claims victory, I don’t wish to see anybody harmed in the future.”

c.bessette@theday.com

Twitter: @Bessettetheday

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