Former state Rep. Michael DiMassa pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing more than $1.2 million in COVID relief and other funds from the city of West Haven where he worked as an administrative assistant to the city council.
DiMassa, a Democrat, faces a maximum sentence of 30 years imprisonment for each of the three counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud charges he admitted to during a federal court hearing, according to a press release from United States Attorney Vanessa Roberts Avery’s office. He remains free on a $250,000 bond pending a yet-to-be scheduled sentencing hearing.
First elected to the state legislature in 2016, DiMassa, 31, resigned from both his legislative and municipal positions following his arrest a year ago on charges that he and others fraudulently billed West Haven for COVID-related work that was never completed.
“DiMassa, who was authorized to approve the designated relief funds for the reimbursement of COVID-related expenditures incurred by West Haven, conspired with others to steal these funds and other West Haven funds through the submission of fraudulent invoices, and subsequent payment, for COVID relief goods and services that were never provided,” the press release read.
DiMassa and a co-defendant, John Bernardo, founded a consulting firm, Compass Investment Group, LLC, to which the city paid more than $630,000 for work that was never performed. In court documents last year, prosecutors alleged that DiMassa spent more than $50,000 on casino chips at Mohegan Sun before and after making transactions from the Compass account.
In addition to DiMassa and Bernardo, Lauren DiMassa, the former state representative’s wife, has also pleaded guilty to charges related to the case. According to Avery’s office, West Haven paid Lauren DiMassa nearly $148,000 for supplies and services related to youth programs, which she never provided.
DiMassa’s arrest last year prompted an independent audit of West Haven’s finances, which found the city had misspent most of its federal relief funds. Earlier this year, Gov. Ned Lamont approved recommendations by the state Municipal Accountability Review Board to assume greater control of the city’s finances.
DiMassa, whose legislative district included parts of West Haven and New Haven, was succeeded in the legislature by Democratic Rep. Treneé McGee, who was elected during a special election held last December.