HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A former West Haven City Hall employee has pleaded guilty to federal wire fraud charges for his part in stealing more than $600,000 of federal funds to be spent on pandemic relief.
John Bernardo, 66, who worked as a housing specialist for the city, pleaded guilty Tuesday in US District Court.
According to state business records, Bernardo and former State Assemblyman Michael DiMassa, a West Haven Democrat, formed Compass Investment Group LLC, which received federal COVID-19 aid funding from the City of West Haven for consulting, lobbying and legal services for its health department, which never were provided.
Bernardo was accused of collecting about $50,000 and said in court that he failed to realize the full extent of the fraud.
DiMassa, who has resigned from the Legislature as well as his position as an adviser to the West Haven City Council, has pleaded not guilty to multiple fraud and conspiracy charges.
He is accused of using his position in the city, which included approving reimbursement for COVID-19 expenses, to steal the money, in part, to fund his gambling at the Mohegan Sun Casino.
DiMassa’s wife, Lauren Knox and John Trasacco, owners of two companies linked to fraudulent billing for COVID-19-related services that were never rendered, have also not pleaded guilty to the fraud and conspiracy allegations related to the guilty of theft.
The City of West Haven had received more than $1.1 million in federal pandemic aid between July 2020 and September 2021.
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