By DAVE COLLINS, Associated Press
A enterprise companion of a former Connecticut state consultant charged with misusing greater than $600,000 in federal COVID-19 reduction funds was arrested Thursday in the identical felony investigation, federal officers stated.
John Bernardo, of West Haven, was arrested on a federal felony grievance alleging wire fraud and conspiracy. He appeared earlier than a federal choose in New Haven and posted $250,000 bail, the U.S. legal professional’s workplace stated.
Bernardo’s lawyer, Tara Knight, stated her 65-year-old consumer has no felony file and was a firefighter for 26 years.
“They’re critical costs, and it truly is an obligation for an legal professional to let the case play out in the courtroom, not in the media,” Knight stated. “So I’m going to let it play out in the courtroom.”
According to state enterprise data, Bernardo and former state Rep. Michael DiMassa, a West Haven Democrat, are members of Compass Investment Group LLC. DiMassa was arrested by FBI brokers on Oct. 20 and charged with wire fraud.
Federal authorities stated Compass Investment Group acquired greater than $600,000 in federal COVID-19 reduction funds from town of West Haven for consulting, lobbying and authorized providers to its well being division that have been by no means supplied.
DiMassa has resigned from the legislature, in addition to from his place as an aide to the West Haven City Council. His lawyer has declined to touch upon the allegations.
Bernardo is listed on West Haven’s web site as a housing specialist for town’s Community Development Administration. Federal investigators stated he’s on administrative depart from that job.
According to an arrest warrant ready by an FBI agent, three deposits totaling greater than $45,000 have been made into Bernardo’s private checking account by way of money, in addition to checks and wire transfers, from Compass’s financial institution accounts, with every deposit coming solely days after Compass acquired funds from West Haven.
DiMassa’s arrest got here per week after town’s mayor raised considerations about attainable fraudulent spending of town’s share of federal pandemic funds, and prompted calls from legislative Republicans for larger state oversight of the large sums of federal cash being supplied to municipalities.
Federal investigators stated DiMassa wrote Compass checks to himself starting from almost $11,900 to $87,650. Authorities stated he additionally made money withdrawals from the corporate’s financial institution accounts starting from $8,000 to $10,000, with some of them coming across the similar time as money “buy-ins” of playing chips at Mohegan Sun Casino.
West Haven Mayor Nancy Rossi stated in an announcement Thursday that she is “sick to my abdomen over this alleged theft.”
“I would like all these people concerned to be arrested and prosecuted to the total extent of the legislation,” she stated. “If discovered responsible, they should go to jail.”
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