A former employee of the city of West Haven, Connecticut has been sentenced to thirteen months in prison for their participation in a scheme involving ex-State Representative Michael DiMassa to steal more than 1.2 million dollars in federal Covid-relief funds. Reports indicate that DiMassa squandered thousands of dollars of the stolen money at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut.
John Bernardo, who admitted to plotting with DiMassa, was the first to be sentenced. Bernardo had been employed as a housing specialist at New Haven’s Office of Community Development Administration and was also a partner with DiMassa in a fake business known as Compass Investment Group.
Together, the two conspired to bill the City of West Haven over six-hundred-thousand dollars for non-existent services. DiMassa, who was in charge of the city’s COVID-19 Grant Department, had the power to issue checks without oversight.
Bernardo, however, only personally received fifty-thousand dollars of the stolen funds. He told the judge at his hearing that he had no idea of the scale of the fraud.
It was revealed that DiMassa had written thirteen checks to Compass Investment. These deposits directly aligned with large withdrawals and cash buy-ins at the casino, according to court documents.
Additionally, DiMassa also pleaded guilty to cutting checks for four-hundred-thirty-two-thousand dollars to companies controlled by John Trasacco, a gambling buddy. This money was supposedly for thousands of Covid supplies, such as protective equipment, as well as other services, none of which were provided. Trasacco was found guilty of wire fraud in December 2022 and is awaiting sentencing.
DiMassa and his wife, Lauren, who has also pleaded guilty to handling some of the funds, are also awaiting sentencing.