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West Haven investigating possible ‘fraudulent’ use of federal COVID-19 relief funds

Mayor Nancy Rossi said there are several large federal CARES Act expenditures that are a cause of “great concern.”

WEST HAVEN, Conn. — An investigation is underway by the mayor’s office in West Haven over the possible “improper” and “fraudulent” use of federal COVID-19 relief funds.

In a video message posted to the city’s website, Mayor Nancy Rossi said she has spent the last two weeks reviewing the federal CARES Act expenditures and she came across several large ones that caused her “great concern.”

“Some of these expenditures appear improper and maybe potentially fraudulent,” she added. “As a certified public accountant, it is my ethical and professional responsibility to disclose this issue to our residents as we move forward with a thorough investigation and audit.”

RELATED: COVID Relief Fund for the Arts helping Connecticut organizations

Rossi said West Haven received $1.2 million from the federal CARES Act in 2020 to help the city recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

After speaking with the city’s independent public accounting firm, it was determined that the transactions are “suspicious” and need further investigation, the mayor said.

“After reviewing the expenditures, I suspect that some of the funds may have been diverted and not used for the purpose for which they were intended, a thought that sickens me,” Rossi said.

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The city’s CARES Act grant will be audited by two independent accounting firms that will collaborate with law enforcement agencies.

“I assure all of our residents that if the investigation proves any wrongdoing and fraudulent activity, I will demand anyone involved be held accountable and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Rossi said. “If anyone is found guilty, they should go right to jail.”

No additional information was immediately available.

RELATED: Small businesses in Connecticut look forward to new relief measures

In April 2020, the state of Connecticut was allocated $1.382 billion by the U.S. Department of the Treasury for the Coronavirus Relief Fund established by the CARES Act.

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