WEST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Democratic State Representative Michael DiMassa, under fire by the FBI for alleged wire fraud, is expected to resign from public office.
DiMassa was accused of wire fraud in the disappearance of $636,000 of COVID relief meant for the City of West Haven.
DiMassa remains out on a $250,000 bond awaiting his court date. His resignation letter is expected to go to the Secretary of the State’s office.
West Haven may have a special election to replace now-disgraced DiMassa.
“It’s a blow to everyone and they’re all still walking around in disbelief,” said Mayor Nancy Rossi.
Rossi, a certified public accountant, reported the discrepancy.
“Then it started getting bigger and bigger and it was over $2 million at one point in time and that’s when I started getting interested,” Rossi added.
Last December, she and the council also gave DiMassa and the Finance Director permission to be her “designee”; able to accept and hand out the COVID money. The resolution was written by DiMassa.
The mayor said her city attorney signed off on the language. Her Republican opponent said Rossi is responsible. The opponent also holds Rossi responsible for allowing the city to contract with a city employee’s LLC.
“This all happened on the mayor’s watch, she was fully aware months ago that this particular company was hired,” said Barry Lee Cohen, Republican candidate for mayor in West Haven.
The company, “Compass Investment Group LLC,” was founded by DiMassa.
FBI special agents say DiMassa and another man funneled CARES Act money through the LLC. DiMassa allegedly made 20 withdrawals and paid cash for casino chips at Mohegan Sun.
Every expenditure is supposed to be run by state officials on the Municipal Accounting Review Board.
CARES ACT money for COVID relief does not fall under the Board purview.
The city is also under the microscope of the state for past fiscal failures, particularly a fiscal crisis in 2017.
The Governor’s budget director sent a letter to Mayor Rossi just a few days ago, warning “several critical requirements in the MOA are out of compliance.”
Mayor Rossi submitted a 16-page packet to the state.
“There have been deficiencies in a number of things and we’re doing our best to correct them,” Rossi said.
Republicans say it’s time for a public hearing and oversight on all COVID relief funding.
“There really isn’t a lot of accountability. What is happening now in West Haven is a clear indication that there needs to be more transparency,” said State Representative Vin Candelora, the Republican House Minority Leader.
DiMassa is due back in court in December. That may be the same week a special election is held to fill his seat.