Lawmakers, officials react to Rep. Michael DiMassa’s arrest

Connecticut

State Rep. Michael DiMassa

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Democratic State Rep. Michael DiMassa of West Haven was arrested on a federal complaint for allegedly defrauding the City of West Haven of more than $630,000.

DiMassa was elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives in November 2016 to represent the 116th Assembly District of West Haven and New Haven. He has been a City of West Haven employee for about 12 years and has most recently served as the administrative assistant to the City Council.

RELATED: State Rep. Michael DiMassa accused of defrauding City of West Haven of more than $630K

Lawmakers and officials continue issuing statements about DiMassa’s arrest.

“Public service is a public trust,” Gov. Ned Lamont said at a news conference Wednesday.

West Haven Mayor Nancy Rossi (D) issued this statement:

I want to commend the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on its speedy investigation and arrest of Rep. Michael A. DiMassa.

If Rep. DiMassa broke the public’s trust and his oath to protect and serve his constituents and is found guilty of fraudulent activity, I am demanding that he and any other individual(s) involved be held accountable and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. If convicted, all individuals involved should go to jail.

I do believe they should pay restitution to West Haven. We didn’t deserve this. Everybody is very upset, some people are extremely upset. I am upset.

As I stated when I found and reported this probable fraudulent activity, I will update our residents when information becomes available and when its release will not compromise the ongoing investigation.

West Haven Mayor Nancy Rossi

House Speaker Matt Ritter (D-Hartford) and Majority Leader Jason Rojas (D-East Hartford, Manchester) issued the following joint statement:

Elected officials are rightly held to a high standard of conduct and trust. Even the slightest hint of wrongdoing bruises that trust.

We have significant concerns about Rep. DiMassa’s arrest but we don’t have information on the charges or additional details. We will be monitoring this story closely to see when and if more facts emerge. In the meantime we are immediately removing Rep. DiMassa from all committee and leadership assignments.

House Speaker Matt Ritter and Majority Leader Jason Rojas

House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora (R-86) called the allegations “disturbing” and said this should be a “wake-up call” to Gov. Ned Lamont and the public.

While I’m hopeful that the disturbing allegations against Representative DiMassa in West Haven are a one-off, this case should be a wakeup call to the governor and the public at large. A staggering amount of federal relief funds has flowed into Connecticut, and the governor has taken advantage of every opportunity to trumpet all the new programs and grants made possible by these funds and tout the overall positive impact this money can have on our state and its residents. But with such a large amount of federal money comes tremendous responsibility, and we’ve reached a critical juncture where it’s not only time for residents to demand accountability and look beyond the governor’s press releases, but for the governor himself to do his part to meet the public halfway and explain exactly how he’ll measure the success of his own initiatives and what his administration is doing to track whether funds provided to various entities are being used appropriately. Through his repeated requests to extend his emergency powers, the governor has made it clear that he wants to be in charge, but that responsibility also includes the obligation to reassure the public that he’ll settle for nothing less than absolute transparency in how these historic levels of federal funds are spent.

House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora

Barry Lee Cohen Republican 10th District City Councilman, who is running for mayor against Rossi in November, also weighed in on DiMassa’s arrest.

It made me disappointed. It made me sad. It really just proved out my point at the debate that the public trust has been shattered.

Barry Lee Cohen

Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling Executive Director Diana Goode issued the following statement:

While we can’t comment on the allegations against Rep. DiMassa, this is exactly the type of havoc that can befall individuals and families that suffer from problem gambling if their addictions go unchecked. This is why it must be a priority for the state to continue problem gambling outreach, prevention, and treatment efforts.

Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling Executive Director Diana Goode

News 8 will continue updating this story as more reaction comes in.

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