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Wife of former West Haven city employee pleads guilty to stealing COVID funds

Lauren DiMassa entered her guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud before a judge in Hartford on Tuesday.

WEST HAVEN, Conn. — The wife of a former West Haven city employee and state representative pleaded guilty to conspiring with her husband to steal COVID-19 funds from the city, officials announced Tuesday.

Lauren DiMassa, 38, entered her guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud before a judge in Hartford on Tuesday.

Lauren DiMassa and her husband, former Democratic Rep. Michael DiMassa, conspired to steal COVID relief money provided to the city of West Haven using fraudulent invoices, court documents and court statements indicate.

RELATED: West Haven's finances now under highest level of state scrutiny

Michael DiMassa and a former business partner, John Bernardo, formed Compass Investment Group LLC in January 2021. According to officials, the company fraudulently billed the city of West Haven and its COVID-19 Grant Department for consulting services to the city's health department that were not performed.

The city of West Haven paid the group a total of $636,783.70 between February and September 2021.

"There were no checks and balances," lifelong West Haven resident Joan Levine wondered. "How could something happen like this with that amount of money. That's that's not right."

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According to court documents, for 15 months, Michael DiMassa submitted fraudulent invoices to West Haven for services related to a Youth Violence Prevention Program. West Haven made 16 payments to Lauren DiMassa, totaling around $147,776.10.

"I mean the mayor, is there no oversight," queried Levine. "I just don't understand it."

Checks from Compass amounting to $45,227.25 were deposited into Bernardo's personal account. In June 2022, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Mayor Nancy Rossi (D-West Haven) did not respond to FOX61's request for comment. Attorney Frank O'Reilly, the lawyer for Lauren DiMassa, declined comment. 

RELATED: Former West Haven city employee pleads guilty in COVID relief fund scheme

Michael DiMassa, who formerly represented House District 116, was arrested in October 2021 after he was accused of stealing more than $600,000 in COVID-19 relief funds. He was charged with one count of wire fraud in connection to a federal investigation into the alleged misuse of CARES Act funds given to the city of West Haven.

Michael DiMassa, who also worked for the city of West Haven as an administrative assistant to the city council, resigned from both of his roles. He is awaiting trial.

Lauren DiMassa was arrested in February.

This is breaking news. Check back for updates.

Tony Terzi is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at tterzi@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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