Former city employee for West Haven sentenced to prison for stealing COVID-19 funds

U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill sentenced Nathanael Michael West, 23, of Kimberly, to...
Gavel generic.(Associated Press)
Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 1:07 PM EDT
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WEST HAVEN, CT (WFSB) – A former city employee for West Haven was sentenced to prison Wednesday for stealing COVID-19 funds.

John Bernardo, 66, of West Haven, was sentenced to 13 months in federal prison by Judge Omar A. Williams in Hartford.

Bernardo was a housing specialist for the city, officials said.

“Michael DiMassa was also employed by the City of West Haven, most recently serving as the Administrative Assistant to the City Council, and was a Connecticut State Representative,” said federal officials.

Bernardo worked with DiMassa to steal COVID-19 relief funds from the city.

According to federal officials, DiMassa “conspired with Bernardo, John Trasacco, and DiMassa’s now wife, Lauren DiMassa, to steal these funds and other West Haven funds through the submission of fraudulent invoices, and subsequent payment, for COVID relief goods and services that were never provided.”

Bernardo formed Compass Investment Group, LLC with DiMassa in January 2021, officials said. The group then fraudulently billed the city.

“From February 2021 through September 2021, the City of West Haven paid Compass Investment Group a total of $636,783.70.  Bernardo received a portion of these funds,” The United States Attorney for CT said.

A judge ordered Bernardo to pay $58,927.25 in restitution.

Officials said Bernardo was arrested on November 4, 2021. “On June 14, 2022, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud,” the United States Attorney’s office said.

Bernardo was released on a $250,000 bond and must report to prison on May 22.