Three New Canaan residents accused of renting a home without the owner's permission appeared in Norwalk Superior Court Thursday morning on various felony and misdemeanor charges.
"Ruth Jones is innocent," her lawyer, Westport-based Andrew Bowman, said after the arraignment. "This was a civil dispute that has been escalated into a criminal prosecution which should never have been brought."
After months of investigation, Jones, 56, of 75 Beacon Hill Road was arrested on charges of first-degree larceny, first-degree conspiracy to commit larceny, third-degree burglary and second-degree forgery. Adam Jones, 29, of 76 Lakeview Ave. was arrested on charges of first-degree larceny and first-degree conspiracy to commit a larceny. Lynda Silvestro, 55, of 31 Father Peters Lane, was arrested on charges of first-degree larceny, first-degree conspiracy to commit larceny and second-degree providing a false statement.
Ruth Jones is an independent real estate agent at Ruth Jones Homes, based in New Canaan. Adam Jones and Lynda Silvestro are principals at the firm Property Management LLC, located at 20 Locust Ave., according to the police. Adam Jones is Ruth Jones' son.
In May 2011, according to the police incident report, Ruth Jones entered into a six-month contract with the owner of a Braeburn Drive home to sell it. The owner lives out of state.
Ruth Jones had a potential buyer, but the sale fell through. She was unable to sell the home by November 2011, when her contract expired and was not renewed, police said. However, between November 2011 and September 2012, police said, Ruth Jones showed the home 27 times to prospective buyers. In February 2012, police said, the home was listed for sale on her website, ruthjoneshomes.com, for $1,369,000. Additionally, in August 2012, police said, the site advertised the home was available for rent at $6,500 per month.
At some point in fall 2012, Ruth Jones rented out the house for $6,000 per month, said police. The renter wrote Ruth Jones a check for $24,000 for the first two months of rent and a security deposit, police said. The home's owner, who lives out of state, was not aware of the rental agreement, said police. Adam Jones and Silvestro signed their names to the rental agreement on behalf of Property Management LLC, police said. According to the report, Jones told the renter to say she was the interior decorator for the home, if anyone asked.
In September 2012, Silvestro attempted to buy the house, said police, and issued $30,000 as a down payment, but later that month the deal fell through. In October, she tried again to buy it, putting an additional $50,000 down. The new deal had a closing date of Nov. 1, but because of superstorm Sandy, which hit on Oct. 28 and 29, both sides agreed to postpone the closing, police said.
After the storm, an attorney for the homeowner stopped by the house to see if it sustained damage and noticed signs that the home was occupied, police said. He contacted the owner, who told him that she was not aware anyone was living in the house, police said. The owner had the locks changed. The renter went to the police station to report that she could not get in because the locks were changed, according to police.
The discovery of a renter living in the house derailed the sale of the home to Silvestro, according to the report.
Silvestro was summoned to the police department on two separate occasions to speak with officers. Police said the second time, Silvestro's story was different and some of her statements contradicted those she'd made the first time.
The three suspects, who are free on $50,000 bond, are now scheduled to appear in Stamford Superior Court on Sept. 18.
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