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Michael DiMassa, former CT legislator, set to plead guilty

Former state Rep. Michael DiMassa leaves federal court in New Haven on Oct. 20, 2021.

Michael DiMassa, a former state Democratic lawmaker who is accused of stealing more than $1.2 million from the city of West Haven, is preparing to plead guilty in the federal criminal case that was filed against him late last year.

Federal court records indicate DiMassa is planning to drop his earlier plea of not guilty at a hearing in Hartford on Nov. 1.

It’s unclear from the court records whether DiMassa was offered some type of deal from federal prosecutors in exchange for pleading guilty to all, or some, of the federal charges, which includes three counts of wire fraud and three related counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

DiMassa’s defense attorney, John Gulash, did not respond to an email seeking comment for this story.

Thomas Carson, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Connecticut, said he could not comment on the case beyond confirming the upcoming hearing.

DiMassa, who previously served as an assistant to the West Haven city council, was arrested in October 2021.

That arrest created a public uproar in West Haven, led to DiMassa’s resignation from the legislature and prompted state officials to increase their oversight of the city’s finances.

Federal prosecutors alleged DiMassa used his position within the city government to divert hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to a shell company that he controlled. As a result, he was charged with a single count of fraud.

Those initial charges were later expanded, however, after federal officials arrested three other people in connection with the alleged scheme.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, at that point, accused DiMassa of orchestrating a conspiracy to steal more than $1.2 million from the West Haven government.

In the court records, federal prosecutors have accused DiMassa of signing off on dozens of fraudulent checks, including payments to Lauren Knox, whom he married late last year.

Two of DiMassa’s co-defendants, including his wife, have already pleaded guilty as part of that federal criminal investigation.

If DiMassa does change his plea, he would avoid an upcoming jury trial, which is set to begin in mid-November.

The federal judge overseeing the case is currently making decisions on how the jury would be selected for that trial.

John Trasacco, the fourth defendant in the federal corruption case, is still preparing for that jury trial, according to recent court records.

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