Published May 07. 2012 4:00PM Updated May 08. 2012 12:05AM
Norwich police confirmed Monday that they are conducting multiple investigations into allegations that Zane Megos accepted cash deposits and advance rent payments for apartments that were condemned or never became available, while more would-be tenants continued to come forward.
The state Consumer Protection Department also is looking into Megos’ dealings, a spokeswoman said.
An investigation by The Day found that, since 2009, Megos has been accepting money to secure apartments that he could not legally rent out.
“Mr. Megos is the subject of criminal investigations that are assigned to the detective division,” Norwich Police Captain Pat Daley said Monday. “Due to the complexity of the situation, we cannot comment on the investigations.”
Not all of Megos’ alleged dealings involved Norwich properties.
On Monday, Jessica Myers, a single mother of seven children now ages 5 to 18, said she became homeless and lost her federal Section 8 housing assistance voucher after she gave Megos a total of $2,440 in deposits from December 2009 through January 2011 for three different apartments in New London that never became available for rent.
Myers, now of Waterford, said she couldn’t go to police or to Small Claims Court, because she never had Megos’ full name — just the scribbled signature on her handwritten receipts for the deposits.
She said that in November 2009, she wanted a larger apartment for herself, her seven children and a teenage nephew for whom she had guardianship. She saw a sign posted at a house on Jefferson Avenue, called the number and talked to Megos. He told her the six-bedroom second floor apartment would be ready “no later than February,” she recalled. She paid her first deposit of $1,440.
In February, she called Megos again and he said the last of the renovations would be done by the beginning of March. She gave another $500 deposit. She left messages as March approached, because the Section 8 housing inspector would need to approve the apartment first.
Megos then suddenly told her the Jefferson Avenue house was no longer available, she said, and asked her to look at a house on Summer Street for $200 more per month. The house needed work, but Megos told her it would be ready on time.
One afternoon, she saw workers at the house and stopped to check.
“I got out of the car and walked up to the porch of the property where a man was there working,” Myers wrote in an email explaining her experiences. “I introduced myself and told him I was there to check the progress of the apartment because I was waiting to move in. Puzzled, he looked at me and said, ‘This house is not for sale anymore. I bought it, this is my house.’”
She called Megos and he apologized and said a business partner must have completed a sale.
He then told her to check the house at 77 Blackhall St. — at the time owned by FC Stony Point LLC of New York. She said months passed and Megos kept saying there were delays but finally said the house would be ready by February 2011. She made her last payment of $500 on Jan. 29.
“I never heard from Zane Megos again after this date and never got an answer on his phone.”
Myers said now lives in Waterford with her children — her 19-year-old nephew is now on his own — and works as many hours as she can get at her job at Foxwoods Resort Casino to make ends meet.
Tom Healy of Norwich said he, too, was in danger of losing his Section 8 housing voucher three years ago after Megos “stretched” out his promise of an apartment at the condemned house at 25 Rogers Ave. He said he gave up just in time and asked his former landlord if he could return to his old apartment.
Healy said he paid Megos $1,150 for the apartment on Rogers Avenue, having borrowed money from his mother and receiving assistance from both the city of Norwich and the state of Connecticut.
Healy said he filed a complaint with Norwich police at the time and plans to do so again now that police say they are investigating.
Luckily, he said, his former Waterford landlord let him move back in. “There was an open apartment, and she let me come back. I would have lost my Section 8 voucher.”
Several people have told The Day that they had paid deposits and advanced rent to Megos for 25 Rogers Ave., the same building Megos allegedly offered to Healy, and for 75 Fourth St., both of which are condemned. Some won judgments in Connecticut Small Claims Court, but have not been paid.
Claudette Carveth, spokeswoman for the state Department of Consumer Protection, said that agency is reviewing information involving Megos and whether he is improperly engaged in real estate activity without a license. The agency’s trade practices division is investigating.
New London attorney Harry Traystman, who represents Megos, could not be reached to comment Monday.