Former West Haven Employee and State Representative Admits Stealing COVID Relief and Other City Funds | USAO-CT

Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, David Sundberg, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Christina D. Scaringi, Special Agent in Charge of the Office of the Inspector General, US Department of Housing and Development Urban, announced that MICHAEL DIMASSA, 31, of West Haven, pleaded guilty today before US District Judge Omar A. Williams in Hartford to conspiracy charges stemming from his participation in schemes that resulted in the theft of more than $1.2 million dollars in relief funds COVID and other funds from the City. of West Haven.

According to court documents and statements made in court, DiMassa was a Connecticut State Representative who was also employed by the City of West Haven, most recently serving as an Administrative Assistant to the City Council. In April 2020, the United States Department of the Treasury allocated money to the State of Connecticut through the Coronavirus Relief Fund (“CRF”), established by the Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (“the CARES Act”) for Coronavirus. the purpose of which is to help local governments defray costs incurred in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. From July 2020 to September 2021, the City of West Haven received approximately $1,150,257 in financial assistance from this fund. DiMassa, who was authorized to approve the designated relief funds to reimburse West Haven for COVID-related expenses, conspired with others to steal these and other West Haven funds by submitting fraudulent invoices, and payment after that, for COVID relief. goods and services never supplied.

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In one scheme, DiMassa conspired with John Bernardo, who was employed by the City of West Haven as a Housing Specialist in the Community Development Administration office. In January 2021, DiMassa and Bernardo founded Compass Investment Group, LLC. Beginning in February 2021, Compass Investment Group LLC fraudulently billed the City of West Haven and its “COVID-19 Grants Department” for consulting services provided to the West Haven Health Department that were not performed. From February 2021 to September 2021, the City of West Haven paid a total of $636,783.70 to Compass Investment Group. DiMassa made several large cash withdrawals from Compass Investment Group LLC’s bank account, some of which were made shortly before or after he was recorded as making a large cash “buy-in” of gambling chips at the Mohegan Sun Casino.

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DiMassa conspired with his now-wife, Lauren DiMassa, by submitting several fraudulent invoices to West Haven for services related to the Youth Violence Prevention Program and for Youth Violence-related COVID-19 Expenses. These invoices list fees for in-home counseling, cleaning supplies, hourly special needs service, wi-fi assistance for low/moderate income families, counseling services, license fees, fall youth clinic, meals, support group supplies, equipment rental, and youth clinic support group. West Haven made at least 16 payments totaling approximately $147,776.10 to Lauren DiMassa, who never provided any services to the City of West Haven.

In a third scheme, DiMassa conspired with another individual by submitting fraudulent invoices from companies, controlled by DiMassa’s co-conspirators, to West Haven for goods and services, including thousands of units of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), HVAC maintenance. at multiple municipal locations, COVID supplies for the Board of Education, and cleaning services for various municipal and school buildings, including one school building that had been vacant and abandoned for several years. The conspiratorial companies received approximately $431,982 through this scheme.

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DiMassa agreed to pay restitution of $1,216,541.80.

DiMassa pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, a felony that carries a maximum prison term of 30 years on each count. No sentencing date has been scheduled.

DiMassa has been released on $250,000 bond since his arrest on October 20, 2021.

Bernardo and Lauren DiMassa previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud. They are awaiting sentencing.

This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of the Inspector General of Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant US Attorneys Ray Miller and David Sheldon.

Individuals with information about allegations of fraud related to COVID-19 are encouraged to report them by calling the Department of Justice’s National Disaster Fraud Center Hotline at 866-720-5721, or through the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www. .justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

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