West Haven City Employee Charged in COVID Relief Funds Fraud Scheme
Leonard C Boyle, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, David Sundberg, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Christina D. Scaringi, Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, announced that JOHN BERNARDO, 65, of West Haven, was arrested today on a federal criminal complaint charging him for his role in conspiracy to defraud the City of West Haven.
Bernardo surrendered to law enforcement this morning. He appeared before U.S. District Judge Robert M. Spector in New Haven and was released on a $250,000 bond.
As alleged in the complaint, Bernardo has been employed by the City of West Haven as a Housing Specialist in the office of Community Development Administration. Michael DiMassa was employed as an Administrative Assistant to the City Council and was a Connecticut State Representative elected to represent West Haven and New Haven. In January 2021, DiMassa and Bernardo formed Compass Investment Group, LLC. Beginning in February 2021, Compass Investment Group LLC fraudulently billed the City of West Haven and its “COVID-19 Grant Department” for consulting services purportedly provided to the West Haven Health Department that were not performed. From February 2021 through September 2021, the City of West Haven paid Compass Investment Group a total of $636,783.70. It is alleged that Bernardo received at least $45,000 of these funds.
The complaint charges Bernardo with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud. Both offenses carry a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.
DiMassa was arrested on a federal criminal complaint on October 20, 2021. He is released on a $250,000 bond.
Acting U.S. Attorney Boyle stressed that a criminal complaint is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General for Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ray Miller.