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West Haven City Employee Pleads Guilty to Charge in COVID Relief Fund Case

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A West Haven city employee who was arrested amid a probe into the misuse of COVID-19 relief funds pleaded guilty Tuesday to a conspiracy charge, according to the United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut.

John Bernardo, 66, of West Haven, worked for the city of West Haven as a housing specialist in the office of Community Development Administration, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Federal prosecutors said Bernardo, a housing specialist in West Haven's Office of Community Development Administration, formed Compass Investment Group, LLC in January 2021 with former state representative Michael DiMassa and in February 2021, the company fraudulently billed the City of West Haven and its “COVID-19 Grant Department” for services that were not performed. 

Between February 2021 and September 2021, the City of West Haven paid Compass Investment Group more than $636,000 and federal officials said Bernardo received a portion of these funds. 

Bernardo pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

He was arrested on Nov. 4, 2021, and was released on $250,000, pending sentencing, which is not scheduled.

DiMassa pleaded not guilty to federal wire fraud charges.

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