Anthony Villano, Wilton Police photo
The eviction of Laura Friedman and Anthony Villano from Cobbs Mill Inn is on hold, likely for a lengthy period of time, as the two have filed an appeal.
Meanwhile, Ms. Friedman sought to delay a related court hearing and Mr. Villano was arrested.
On August 1, after a gray 2021 Toyota 4Runner with New Jersey plates was reported stolen, Wilton police officers were dispatched to the Stop & Shop parking lot on River Road. There they found the 4Runner and its operator. The vehicle bore license plates not from New Jersey, but from Connecticut, plates registered to a white Ford van, not a gray Toyota. The officers confirmed it was the stolen 4Runner.
According to the Wilton Police report, Mr. Villano was the operator. He was arrested and booked on charges of first degree larceny and misuse of license plates. He was released on bond and is scheduled to be arraigned on August 14. Larceny in the first degree is a Class B felony, punishable by one to 20 years imprisonment.
Mr. Villano is already slated to go on trial in October for a 2015 felony forgery arrest in Stratford. Other court appearances, yet to be scheduled, are for arrests in Stratford, Milford, Orange and Shelton for larceny, tampering with physical evidence, burglary, impersonation of a police officer, and intimidation of a witness. He has also been charged with several misdemeanors. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Back in court
Mr. Villano and Ms. Friedman still occupy Cobbs Mill Inn, and apparently could remain for quite some time. Their appeal stays the eviction ordered on July 21 by Superior Court Judge Sheila Ozalis. The appeals process could easily last a year or more.
On August 2, Judge Ozalis held a hearing to consider ordering Ms. Friedman and Mr. Villano to make monthly Use and Occupancy payments “during the pendency of the appeal.”
On August 4, the judge issued the order: a payment of $20,000 per month. She denied Ms. Friedman’s and Mr. Villano’s request to set a bond instead.
Payments must be made to the court on the first of each month, beginning on September 1, and “shall continue every month thereafter until the defendants’ appeal is concluded.”
In a filing, attorneys for Cobbs Mill Inn owners Kleber and Sandra Siguenza pointed out that Ms. Friedman had testified in a deposition that $20,000 in monthly rent would be a fair payment to reside at the property.
Mr. Villano, out on bail, was ordered to attend the August 2 hearing in person, and did so. Ms. Friedman asked to be excused or to be granted a continuance. Her attorney told the court Ms. Friedman was in Greece, “apparently unable to communicate by video and may not even be able to communicate by phone.”
Judge Ozalis demanded a more detailed explanation. In response, Ms. Friedman said she was in Greece tending to her ailing “elderly fiancé” who “has been in my life for 50 years.” She said she is there to make him “comfortable by doing the shopping and helping around the condo in which he has a life use.”
Ultimately, Judge Ozalis denied the request to delay the hearing but allowed Ms. Friedman to attend by telephone, which she did.
Our thanks to Heather Borden Herve for the assist.
July 24, 2023: Cobbs Mill Inn Eviction Ordered