Haven

Ahead of Bernardo’s scheduled Nov. 24 court date for a preliminary hearing, the court granted his attorneys’ request for “additional time to negotiate a disposition with the government,” according to a Nov. 10 court document. His hearing was rescheduled to Jan. 24.

DiMassa also was expected in federal court for a preliminary hearing on Friday, but on Monday his attorney’s motion to reschedule that court date to March 10 was accepted.

“The parties agree that a further continuance of the hearing is warranted as the government is investigating the full scope of the Defendant’s alleged wrong-doing and the parties are working toward a possible disposition,” DiMassa’s attorney, John Gulash, wrote in the Dec. 6 motion.

Neither Gulash nor Bernardo’s attorney, Noor Abu-Hantash, responded to requests for comment.

In 2020, the City Council voted to authorize DiMassa as one of three people to oversee the expenditure of the city’s $1.2 million CARES Act allocation.

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Instead, federal authorities allege, DiMassa submitted fraudulent invoices for a shell company that he and Bernardo formed in January 2021; according to court documents, DiMassa allegedly spent tens of thousands of that money on gambling chips at Mohegan Sun.

DiMassa had worked in City Hall as an administrative assistant to the City Council as well as an administrative assistant in the corporation counsel’s office.

Bernardo, a onetime New Haven firefighter, also long has been involved in West Haven politics, is a member of Communication Workers of American AFL-CIO, Local 1103 who according to city records was hired on Feb. 19, 2013, and was on administrative leave from his job as a housing specialist in the city’s Community Development Administration.

In addition to the criminal investigation around the alleged fraud, the state’s Office of Policy and Management has authorized a forensic audit of the West Haven's budget and financial practices.

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The incident also sparked a statewide audit of how municipalities spent their share of the grant.

On Dec. 14, voters in the 116th District will be able to vote in a special election as DiMassa resigned from his role as state representative days after his arrest in October.

Councilwoman Trenee McGee, who won a second term on the council less than 24 hours earlier, was chosen in November to be the Democratic candidate in the special election for the 116th District House seat.

Portia Bias, a paraprofessional in the West Haven schools and former city councilwoman, petitioned her way onto the ballot for the special election as an Independent.

Republican Richard DePalma, who ran unsuccessfully against DiMassa in the 116th District in 2018, received his party’s nomination to run in the special election.

The winner of the election will be sworn in to the seat on Jan. 6, 2022, according to City Clerk Patricia Horvath.

brian.zahn@hearstmediact.com

Source : https://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Former-West-Haven-state-Rep-DiMassa-alleged-16685516.php

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