ADVERTISEMENT

Mayor wins recount in Connecticut city facing FBI probe

November 8, 2021 GMT

WEST HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A recount Sunday showed West Haven Mayor Nancy Rossi, whose administration has been embroiled in a scandal over the misuse of federal pandemic relief funds, won a slim victory over her Republican opponent Barry Lee Cohen in last week’s municipal election.

The incumbent Democrat won 4,275 to 4,243, election officials said. Rossi had led Cohen by 29 votes following the original count after the Nov. 2 election.

The election occurred during a financial scandal that has led to the arrest of two city employees on charges they stole federal COVID-19 relief funds.

“We’re going to make the changes we need to make,” Rossi told Hearst Connecticut Media after the results were announced. “We’re going to get through this together, we’re Westies.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Cohen has 14 days to file any challenge over the recount. He’s said he has some concerns over whether absentee ballots were handled correctly.

The Republican city councilman has blasted Rossi over the scandal that led to the arrest of then-state Rep. Michael DiMassa just days before the election. DiMassa was also an administrative assistant to the city council and one of two city officials empowered by Rossi to approve spending on COVID-19 issues.

DiMassa and another City Hall employee, John Bernardo, 65, are accused of creating a consulting company in January that was used to steal more than $600,000 by billing the city for nonexistent pandemic consulting services. DiMassa is accused of spending tens of thousands of dollars gambling at the Mohegan Sun casino.

DiMassa, 30, resigned from the legislature as well as his city position. His lawyer has declined to comment on the allegations

Bernardo’s lawyer, Tara Knight, said she will allow the case to play out in the courtroom not in the media.

This will be Rossi’s second term as mayor. She won election in 2017, defeating then-incumbent mayor Ed O’Brien in both a primary and then in a three-way general election by more than 1,500 votes.