WEST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A federal jury in Hartford announced on Thursday afternoon that a West Haven had been found guilty of a conspiracy to steal COVID relief funds from the city of West Haven.
According to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut, John Trassacco, 50, was found guilty of conspiracy and fraud offenses.
A trial for Michael DiMassa for his involvement in a fraudulent scheme and a former Connecticut State Representative and Administrative Assistant to the West Haven city council began on Nov. 21.
In April 2020, the state was allocated money by the U.S. Dept. of Treasury through the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) established by the CARES Act to help local governments pay costs incurred by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to court records, from July-Sept 2020, the city of West Haven received approximately $1,150,257 in financial assistance from the fund.
Dimassa, who was authorized to approve the designated relief funds for the reimbursement of COVID-related expenses conspired with others to steal from the funds along with other city funds.
An investigation revealed DiMassa conspired with Trasacco through the submission of fraudulent invoices and subsequent payments for COVID-19 relief goods that were never provided.
According to court documents and records, DiMiassa and Trasacco used fraudulent invoices for goods and services to West Haven from two companies owned by Trasacco; L&H Company and JIL Sanitation Services.
The fraudulent invoices included thousands of units of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), HVAC maintenance at several municipal locations, COVID suppliers for the Board of Ed. and cleaning services for various municipal and school buildings, including a school building that had been abandoned and vacant for years.
Trasacco’s companies received $431,982 through this scheme.
Trasacco was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud. Each charge carries a maximum prison sentence of twenty years.
A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled for Trasacco, according to officials.
Trasacco who was released on a $100,000 bond was remanded to custody at the conclusion of Friday’s court proceedings.
On Nov. 1, DiMassa pleaded guilty to three counts of wire fraud admitting his part in a scheme that defrauded the city of West Haven of $1.2 million dollars.
The investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.