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State settles suit against 'predatory' home brokers

Tuesday, April 25, 2006 

BY BEN CONERY - Copyright 2006 Republican-American

WATERBURY -- The state and three real estate brokers accused of taking advantage of naive, first-time home buyers reached a $750,000 settlement Monday, just as the case was set to go to trial in Waterbury Superior Court.

The settlement ends a lawsuit that began two years ago.

In December 2003, the state sued real estate agents Robert Zappone, Joel Rosario and Michael Grady. The suit named GRZ LLC, A Home Connection and Mortgage SuperCenter, three companies the men operate as part of their real estate business at 451 Meriden Road.

The lawsuit alleged the brokers made cosmetic repairs to rundown houses before selling them at inflated prices. The brokers were also accused of helping the buyers get mortgages they couldn't afford.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal brought the lawsuit on behalf of 19 home buyers whom he learned about from the Naugatuck Valley Project Inc., a Waterbury-based coalition of church, community and labor groups.