Connecticut Lawmaker Allegedly Stole Over $600K to Cover Mohegan Sun Casino Trips
Posted on: October 21, 2021, 12:07h.
Last updated on: October 21, 2021, 12:32h.
A Connecticut lawmaker is facing a federal wire fraud charge. Law enforcement alleged that he stole more than $600,000 to fund his gambling excursions.
Connecticut Rep. Michael DiMassa (D-West Haven) was arrested yesterday and charged with one count of wire fraud. He appeared before US District Court Judge Sarah Merriam before being released on $250,000 bail.
Federal prosecutors allege that DiMassa formed an entity called Compass Investment Group LLC, and used the company to fraudulently steal COVID-19 relief funds from the City of West Haven. In addition to being a state lawmaker, DiMassa has been a West Haven city employee for 12 years, and most recently served as the administrative assistant to the West Haven City Council.
In that role, a federal investigation determined that DiMassa likely had access to the $1.2 million in COVID-19 relief money the US government supplied the Connecticut town through the CARES Act.
DiMassa and his staff have not responded to multiple media inquiries for comment.
State Rep. Fancies the Casino
According to the arrest affidavit levied against DiMassa, investigators believe Compass Investment Group posed as a consulting firm that the City of West Haven contracted to help in its coronavirus response. Compass sent numerous invoices ranging from $11,000 to $87,000 to the city between February of 2021 through last month. In total, Compass billed West Haven $636,783.70.
Compass invoices claimed the bills were for consultancy services provided to the West Haven Health Department. But the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut has found no such services being rendered by Compass.
As administrative assistant for West Haven, DiMassa might have had the freedom to issue checks on the Compass invoices without approval from any other city official. The criminal complaint facing the state lawmaker alleges that DiMassa executed numerous withdrawals from Compass. Much of that money went towards his gambling trips to the Mohegan Sun tribal casino in Eastern Connecticut.
The federal affidavit claims DiMassa, soon after withdrawing money from Compass, visited Mohegan Sun multiple times and purchased large amounts of gaming chips. The complaint alleges that he purchased $57,600 in casino chips in May of this year alone.
While DiMassa is considered innocent until proven guilty, he has been stripped of his committee and leadership assignments in the state House while the legal proceedings play out.
Mayor Uncovered Alleged Theft
West Haven Mayor Nancy Rossi (D) appears to be the hero in this story. Earlier this month, Rossi, who is in her second term, announced that city officials had detected potential fraud in the spending of the town’s federal CARES money.
The US Justice Department, FBI, and Housing and Urban Development’s Inspector General, all three of which investigated the DiMassa case, believe the state Democratic politician is at least partly responsible for the missing funds.
If Representative 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,” Rossi declared in a statement issued last night.
“If convicted, all individuals involved should go to jail,” the mayor demanded.
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