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West Haven City Employee Admits Role in Scheme to Steal Covid Relief Funds

Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that JOHN BERNARDO, 66, of West Haven, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Omar A. Williams in Hartford to a conspiracy charge stemming from his role in a scheme to steal COVID relief funds from the City of West Haven.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Bernardo was employed by the City of West Haven as a Housing Specialist in the office of Community Development Administration.  In January 2021, Bernardo and another city employee formed Compass Investment Group, LLC.  Beginning in February 2021, Compass Investment Group LLC fraudulently billed the City of West Haven and its “COVID-19 Grant Department” for consulting services purportedly provided to the West Haven Health Department that were not performed.  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. 

Bernardo pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 years.

Bernardo was arrested on November 4, 2021.  He is released on a $250,000 pending sentencing, which is not scheduled.

This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General for Investigations.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ray Miller.

Individuals with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 are encouraged to report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721, or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.