State Rep. Michael DiMassa arrested, accused of stealing West Haven COVID-19 relief funds

Samuel Weinmann, Politics Editor

On Oct. 20, State Representative Michael DiMassa (D–New Haven, West Haven) was arrested after a nearly two-week-long FBI investigation into the possible misuse of COVID-19 relief funds.

DiMassa is accused of stealing at least $600,000 from West Haven CARES Act funds in a wire fraud allegation. The investigation revealed that missing funds corresponded with a large purchase that the representative made at the Mohegan Sun Casino.

According to a Department of Justice (DoJ) report on Wednesday, the theft stemmed largely from an investment group formed by DiMassa and another party called Compass Investment Group, LLC. The organization was to provide COVID-19-related consulting services for the West Haven Health Department, but these consulting services were reportedly not performed.

DiMassa was accused of taking out large cash withdrawals from the investment group’s bank account prior to purchasing tens of thousands of dollars worth of gambling chips at Mohegan Sun.

On Wednesday evening, West Haven Mayor Nancy Rossi issued a statement about the incident saying: “If Rep. DiMassa broke the public’s trust and his oath to protect and serve his constituents and is found guilty of fraudulent activity, I am demanding that he and any other individual(s) involved be held accountable and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

The alleged theft has also left other Connecticut lawmakers in shock.

According to WTNH News 8, other local politicians such as House Speaker Matt Ritter (D-Hartford), Majority Leader Jason Rojas (D-East Hartford, Manchester) and House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora (R-86) issued statements expressing their dismay and shock.

Candelora directed part of his statement to Gov. Ned Lamont, saying that “this case should be a wake-up call to the governor and the public at large.”

According to the DoJ, the maximum term someone can be imprisoned for wire fraud is 20 years; DiMassa was released on a $250,000 bond and is currently awaiting a preliminary hearing which is scheduled for Dec. 10.