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Businessman gets 8 years in prison for theft of COVID funds

Apr 3, 2023, 11:45 AM

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut businessman who conspired with a now-former state lawmaker to steal federal coronavirus relief funds from the city of West Haven was sentenced Monday to eight years in prison for his role in the scheme.

A federal investigation found John Trasacco, 50, had conspired with former state Rep. Michael DiMassa to submit fraudulent invoices from two companies Trasacco controlled for goods and services never provided.

The list included thousands of items of personal protection equipment, billings for heating and air conditioning maintenance at several municipal buildings, COVID-19 supplies for the school board, and cleaning services for various city and school buildings, including one building that had been vacant and abandoned for years.

Federal prosecutors determined Trasacco’s companies received approximately $431,982 from the scheme. A jury found Trasacco guilty on Dec. 2 of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. U.S. District Judge Omar A. Williams, who presided over Monday’s hearing, has ordered him to pay $143,994 in restitution.

Trasacco was remanded to custody following Monday’s court appearance. Once his prison sentence is complete, he must serve five years of supervised release.

Trascacco is the latest person involved in the scheme to be sentenced. Last month, John Bernardo, 66, was sentenced to 13 months in prison.

Michael DiMassa, a Democrat, served as an aide to the city, with authority to approve reimbursement of COVID-19 expenditures.

He resigned from that job and the General Assembly after his 2021 arrest. He has pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy charges related to the total theft of more than $1.2 million in coronavirus relief funds from the city and agreed to pay more than $1.2 million in restitution. His sentencing is set for this month.

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Businessman gets 8 years in prison for theft of COVID funds