Arrest warrant: State Rep. DiMassa used fake account to withdraw federal funds to gamble at Mohegan Sun
A Connecticut Democratic state lawmaker is charged with stealing more than $600,000 in COVID-19 relief money from his hometown. Federal prosecutors say he gambled some of it away at a casino.
State Rep. Michael DiMassa, of West Haven, is charged with one count of wire fraud. He faces up to 20 years in prison.
According to an arrest warrant, DiMassa and another man used a limited liability corporation to bill the West Haven Health Department for $636,000 in phony services. Compass Investment Group LLC billed the city for legal consulting, lobbying, and “site work for a COVID-19 clinic.”
DiMassa works for the city. In December 2020, City Council gave him and the city finance director authority to approve COVID-19 spending on behalf of the mayor.
FBI investigators say DiMassa made more than a dozen withdrawals from Compass’ bank account. Within days, he allegedly spent $53,000 on gambling chips at Mohegan Sun casino.
MORE: Read the affidavit
DiMassa had no comment as he left New Haven Federal Court Wednesday afternoon.
"He obviously takes it very seriously and is certainly acting in a responsible manner," says John Gulash, DiMassa's attorney.
West Haven Mayor Nancy Rossi reported the suspicious activity to the FBI. She announced the investigation in a YouTube video on Oct. 8.
"As a certified public accountant, it is my ethical and professional responsibility to disclose this issue to our residents as we move forward on a thorough investigation and audit," Rossi said.
The state is now doing its own audit.
"They've already hired folks to do the audit. We'll look at West Haven. We'll look beyond if we need to look beyond. I want to give people confidence this money is being invested appropriately," says Gov. Ned Lamont.
Republicans want an audit of every town's COVID-19 spending.
"One, it would make sure that we start to rebuild the public's trust. But also, would uncover whether or not the administration had the proper checks and balances in place," says state Sen. Kevin Kelly.
DiMassa has been stripped of all his committee assignments at the state Capitol. He's free on $250,000 bond.
The judge said DiMassa is being treated for gambling addiction.
According to the Connecticut House Democrats website, DiMassa is a 2009 graduate of Notre Dame High School where he was awarded the "Man of the Year" title.
He is also a graduate of Albertus Magnus College, graduating in 2013 at the top of his class, earning a bachelor of science degree in business and leadership.