Wife of former Connecticut state representative admits to stealing COVID-19 funds

Wife of former Connecticut state representative admits to stealing COVID-19 funds

The wife of a former Connecticut state lawmaker pleaded guilty for stealing more than $600,000 in federal relief funds for Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) from the city of West Haven.

Lauren DiMassa, wife of former Connecticut Rep. Michael DiMassa, is one of several people arrested during the investigation. She pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud conspiracy in the U.S. District County in Hartford. However, sentencing has not yet been scheduled and she remains free on bail.

Federal prosecutors said West Haven paid DiMassa nearly $148,000 for services that she never provided to the city. She and her husband were also accused of submitting fraudulent invoices to the city for coronavirus-related services, such as youth violence prevention.

Her lawyer, Francis O’Reilly, said in court that it was important to note that she turned over most of the money she received from the city to her husband, a West Haven Democrat who also served as an aide to the West Haven City Council.

Michael DiMassa has held several positions in the city, including administrative assistant to the West Haven City Council, clerk of the West Haven City Council, assistant to the West Haven mayor and assistant to the West Haven registrar of voters.

In late 2020, West Haven’s Democratic Mayor Nancy Rossi designated him as one of the two city officials who have been given authority to approve spending on COVID-19 issues.

He resigned from his position as a state representative and aide to the city council following his arrest in October, but he pleaded not guilty to fraud and conspiracy charges.

Prosecutors, however, alleged that Michael DiMassa used his position as a lawmaker to steal the money and finance his gambling activities at the Mohegan Sun Casino.

His former business partner, John Bernardo, who served as a housing specialist for the city, pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud charge last month for his role in the theft. A fourth person charged in the case, John Trassaco, pleaded not guilty. Trasacco is a business owner linked to the fraudulent invoices submitted to the city for COVID-19 services that were never provided.

Fraud case opened in February

The case first came to light in February, with DiMassa, his wife, Bernardo and Tracasso charged with stealing the $600,000 by submitting fraudulent invoices to the city through a company they formed in January 2021 called Compass Investment Group, LLC.

The city of West Haven received over $1.1 million in federal pandemic relief funds between July 2020 and September 2021. The indictment alleged that DiMassa, who was authorized to approve the reimbursement of COVID-related expenditures, conspired with the others to steal the said funds.

The indictment further alleged that DiMassa and Trasacco conspired to submit fraudulent invoices through two entities controlled by the latter – L&H Company and JIL Sanitation Services – for “goods and services.” These included thousands of units of PPE, HVAC maintenance at multiple municipal locations, COVID-related supplies for the city’s Board of Education and cleaning services for municipal and school buildings, including one that had been vacant for years.

According to the indictment, both companies received approximately $421,982.

DiMassa and his wife have also been accused of submitting numerous fraudulent invoices for services related to youth violence programs, including counseling services, meals, support group supplies and wi-fi assistance for lower-to-moderate income families.

The indictment further stated that the city of West Haven made at least 16 payments totaling $147,776 to DiMassa’s wife, who never provided services to the city.

Visit Corruption.news for more updates about cases involving corrupt politicians in America.

West Haven is not the only city that funneled its federal coronavirus budget. Watch the video below for more information about millions in COVID funds being stolen.

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