Lauren DiMassa, the wife and co-conspirator to former state Rep. Michael DiMassa, was released last week from federal prison to begin serving a six-month home detention sentence related to the couple’s embezzlement of COVID relief funding.
Michael DiMassa, a former Democratic state representative and city of West Haven employee, and his wife, Lauren Knox DiMassa, both pleaded guilty to charges related to a conspiracy to steal more than $1.2 million in COVID relief funds from the city.
Lauren DiMassa began serving a six month sentence in May and, according to court documents and the federal prison bureau, she was released on Friday.
Her release may impact the scheduled Dec. 4 surrender date of Michael DiMassa. A federal court judge has twice delayed the start of his 27-month prison sentence to help the couple manage child care while his wife was in prison. Lauren DiMassa gave birth while incarcerated in Texas.
“The spirit of this request is to minimize the potential secondary consequences of the two defendants being unavailable to care for the newborn baby,” Michael DiMassa’s attorney, John Gulash, wrote in August.
Judge Omar A. Williams granted that request and allowed Michael DiMassa to travel to Texas in order to return the couple’s newborn child to Connecticut.
At the time, Gulash wrote that he would keep the court apprised of Lauren DiMassa’s release in case it was meaningfully advanced ahead of her Nov. 11 expected release date. Gulash made that notification in a court filing Tuesday.
“[C]ounsel for Defendant Michael DiMassa hereby notifies the Court and the U.S. Attorney that Defendant’s wife has been released and is now serving home confinement,” he wrote.
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.