Michael DiMassa, a former legislator convicted of stealing more than $1.2 million in COVID relief funding, was permitted to delay the Monday start of his prison sentence in order to travel to Texas where his wife is incarcerated and soon expected to give birth.
Earlier this month, federal court Judge Omar A. Williams granted a motion delaying the beginning of DiMassa’s 27-month prison sentence from Monday until Sept. 7.
“Defendant may travel to Texas in the event his wife, Lauren Knox (DiMassa), suffers a medical emergency related to her pregnancy or upon going into labor,” an item on DiMassa’s case docket read. “Ultimately, he may travel there for the purpose of returning the infant to Connecticut.”
DiMassa, a former Democratic state representative and employee of the town of West Haven, pleaded guilty last year to three wire fraud charges related to the embezzlement of town funds including federal pandemic relief funding.
His wife, Lauren DiMassa, was a co-defendant in the same case. She was sentenced to six months in prison and began serving that time in May, when she reported to Federal Medical Center, Carswell, a federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas. Her expected release date is in November.
As of late June, the two were expecting a baby in the next two to four weeks in what Michael DiMassa’s attorney, John Gulash, described as a “high-risk” pregnancy in a motion requesting the judge’s permission for his client to travel to Texas.
Neither federal prosecutors nor DiMassa’s probation officer objected to the delay, according to court documents. The judge granted the motion on July 7 in an order which requires DiMassa to submit any travel plans to the probation officer.
In an April sentencing memo, Gulash warned of child care concerns related to the couple’s expected baby, their 11 month-old son, and DiMassa’s two step daughters.
“As Mr. DiMassa’s wife is about to begin to serve her six-month prison sentence, Mr. DiMassa fears, should he be sentenced to a term of imprisonment, that neither parent will be available to care for the children for at least some, yet-to-be-determined amount of time,” Gulash wrote. “Mr. DiMassa feels fear and uncertainty regarding the care of his children and stepchildren in his and his wife’s absence.”
DiMassa first took office as a state representative in 2017. He also worked as an administrative assistant to West Haven’s city council. He resigned from both positions after his arrest in 2021.
Federal law enforcement officials argued that DiMassa and others fraudulently billed West Haven for COVID-related work that was never completed. In addition to the 27-month prison sentence, the judge has ordered Michael DiMassa to pay $856,844.45 in restitution.
Prosecutors said 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, they alleged that DiMassa spent more than $50,000 on casino chips at Mohegan Sun before and after making transactions from the Compass account.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, West Haven paid Lauren DiMassa nearly $148,000 for supplies and services related to youth programs, which she never provided.
Bernardo and both DiMassas pleaded guilty to the charges. However, a third defendant, John Trasacco, received an eight-year prison sentence after a jury found him guilty of one count of related wire fraud.