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Mayor: potential fraud in spending of COVID relief funds

October 11, 2021 GMT

WEST HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut mayor has asked for a forensic investigation into the city’s spending of federal pandemic relief money after coming across issues she says make her suspect fraud.

West Haven Mayor Nancy Rossi, who is also a certified public accountant, said in a video posted on the city’s YouTube page that she came across several large expenditures that might be fraudulent.

Charles Grady, a spokesman for the FBI in New Haven, told Hearst Connecticut Media that agents visited City Hall on Friday, but would not confirm whether an investigation was underway.

The federal pandemic relief money is supposed to be used to help with the public health response and support the economic recovery from the pandemic.

West Haven’s share of the $2.2 trillion in stimulus funding from the CARES Act has been more than $1.15 million so far, according to the state Office of Policy and Management.

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Rossi said she had spoken to the city’s independent public accounting firm, “which, after its review, agreed that some transactions are suspicious.

“I assure all of our residents that if the investigation proves any wrongdoing, and fraudulent activity, I will demand anyone involved be held accountable and be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Rossi said. If anyone is found guilty they should go right to jail.”

Rossi said investigators have asked her not to divulge the details of her suspicions or say whether any city employees have been suspended or face other discipline.

Rossi last week acknowledged using some relief funding to pay City Hall employees overtime for working on pandemic-related tasks, but said that is a proper use of the money.