Wife of Former West Haven City Employee Admits Role in Scheme to Steal COVID Relief Funds
Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that LAUREN DiMASSA, formerly known as LAUREN KNOX, 38, of West Haven, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Omar A. Williams in Hartford to a conspiracy charge stemming from her role in a scheme to steal COVID relief funds from the City of West Haven.
According to court documents and statements made in court, DiMassa conspired with her husband, who at the time was a West Haven city employee, to steal money that was provided to West Haven to alleviate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Between approximately July 2020 and October 2021, DiMassa’s husband submitted fraudulent invoices to West Haven for services related to a Youth Violence Prevention Program and for Youth Violence COVID-19 Associated Expenses. These invoices listed charges for in-home counseling, cleaning supplies, special needs hourly service, wi-fi assistance for low/moderate income families, counseling services, license fees, a fall youth clinic, meals, support group supplies, equipment rental, and youth clinic support group. The payment vouchers requested that checks be made out to directly to DiMassa.
West Haven made 16 payments totaling approximately $147,776.10 to DiMassa, who never provided any services to the City of West Haven. DiMassa and her husband used the proceeds for their own benefit.
DiMassa pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 years.
DiMassa was arrested on February 18, 2022. She is released on a $50,000 pending sentencing, which is not scheduled.
As to DiMassa’s husband, who has been charged with related offenses, U.S. Attorney Avery stressed 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.
Individuals with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 are encouraged to report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721, or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.