Pictured: Mayor Nancy R. Rossi, right, on Thursday announces $5 million in state funding… Joining her are, from left, state Rep. Michael A. DiMassa, D-West Haven; Rossi’s executive assistant, Lou Esposito; state Rep. Charles J. Ferraro, R-West Haven; and Fred A. Messore, the city’s commissioner of planning and development. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)
Given a chance to choose virtue over vice, we should come down on the side of virtue, if only because this makes for a quiet, undisturbed life. Naturally, we don’t want to push ourselves forward as virtue exemplars. That would be to give the game away. It is always best to be virtuous without seeming to be so, not to seem virtuous while hiding from the world our horns and cloven hooves. This takes a great deal of modesty and is beyond the scope of the average politician, who must stretch the truth – artfully, one hopes -- cheat and steal, often on the advice of others, to maintain his or her political status.
The horns and hooves have now shown themselves during the
trial of former Democrat Representative and West Haven city employee Michael
“The personal and professional life of Michael DiMassa,” CTMirror reported, ”was on full
display in federal court on Tuesday as lawyers scrutinized his finances, his
gambling habits and his ‘sexual escapades.’”
Ah! “Sexual escapades!” That should catch the attention of a
campaign-weary public that cynically tends to drowse through expected political
There was no shortage of political corruption in Mayor Nancy
Rossi’s West Haven. Previous to serving the town of West Haven -- and himself! –
as member of the Connecticut House of Representatives,
representing District 116, DiMassa was a respected assistant to the West
Haven city council.
As November tail-spinned into December, DiMassa, who may
have pleaded to reduced charges, appeared as a prosecution witness against John
Trasacco, “a Branford resident who allegedly conspired with DiMassa to steal
more than $430,000 from the city,” according to CTMirror.
The self-confessed corruption vulture had now become, at the
not so gentle urging of prosecutors, a singing canary.
the part of a prosecution star witness, DiMassa has not been what one would
call a sympathetic character. His flaws ran deep. He was, ticking off all
of the seven deadly sins, afflicted with pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust,
gluttony and sloth. Happily for moral delinquents, the American justice system
does not punish moral failings. If it
did so, many if not most politicians who cut ethical corners for reasons of
status and power would be viewing the passing parade through iron bars.
charges against Trasacco have yet to be adjudicated. His fate now lies in the
hands of a jury, but DiMassa will be spared, after having pleaded guilty to
three federal conspiracy charges, future pawing by prosecutors who have now set
their sights on Trasacco.
Haven officials who took the stand,” CTMirror reported, “also told the jury that
they never received any of the masks and other services Trasacco’s businesses
were paid to deliver.” However, there was no “conspiracy” between DiMassa and
Trasacco, the defense is expected to argue in summation.
Giering, one of Trasacco’s attorneys, told the judge, “At most, this is a case
of an underperforming contractor.” While it was true that DiMassa may have
helped Trasacco get the contracts with the city because of their personal
relationship, Giering said, this was “par for the course” in West Haven. “It
was in no way unusual or suspicious. Not in this city. Not at this time.”
high-profile witness exited the courthouse without ever being called in front
of the jury, CTMirror reported. “West Haven Mayor Nancy Rossi, a Democrat who
is serving her third term in office, sat in a hallway in the federal courthouse
in Hartford for most the day, in the expectation that she would be called as a
witness for the defense.” The mayor was not called to testify, narrowly avoiding
November 7, 2021, WTNH Channel 8 reported that Rossi had prevailed over
her Republican challenger, Barry Lee Cohen, by a razor thin 33 votes.
a recount, Cohen attorney Vincent Marino alleged to ballot irregularities. “The
outer envelopes [of absentee ballots] are supposed to be properly endorsed by
the clerk,” Marino said. “Here, we have many envelopes that are missing dates
of receipt, times of receipt, or signatures.”
called upon Rossi to resign, “pointing to the ongoing investigation into the
alleged misuse of the city’s COVID relief money.”
mayor should resign,” Cohen said, “and she should resign as of [Sunday night]. Because
it’s not about winning or losing, this city is really going to be reeling
because there’s going to be more arrests.”
Rossi, the “par for the course” Democrat Mayor of West Haven,
likely was reeling with joy at having so narrowly escaped being called to
render testimony under oath as a witness for the defense of the indefensible DiMassa.