West Haven mayor’s son seeks probation
BRIDGEPORT — The son of West Haven’s mayor, awaiting trial on charges that he embezzled more than $80,000 from restaurants in Trumbull and Stratford, applied for a special probation program on Friday.
During a brief hearing before Superior Court Judge Joan Alexander, Rossi applied for accelerated rehabilitation.
Under accelerated rehabilitation, a pretrial program for nonviolent offenders, the defendant does not plead guilty to the charges but is placed on up to two years of probation. If he commits no other crimes during that probation, the original charges against him are dismissed.
Alexander continued the case for a hearing on Nov. 21.
Both Rossi and his lawyer, Matt Popilowski, declined comment as they left the Fairfield County Courthouse.
Rossi had been manager of the Sitting Duck restaurants in Trumbull and Stratford. Sitting Duck restaurants are part of the SBC Restaurant Group co-owned by Trumbull State Rep. David Rutigliano.
Sitting Duck has locations in Stratford and Trumbull, with another coming to Oxford's Quarry Walk. SBC Restaurant and Brewery is in downtown Milford.
Police said they received a complaint from William da Silva, co-owner of the two restaurants, that Rossi had been embezzling from them.
An audit determined that between Nov. 1, 2015, and April 21, 2018, someone later identified as Rossi had taken cash from sales at the Trumbull restaurant and had inflated inventory at the restaurants, pocketing the difference, police said. They said the loss totaled $80,511.56.
Police said they reviewed the video surveillance footage from inside the Trumbull restaurant which they said showed Rossi counting cash in the office of the restaurant and putting some in his pocket.
Detectives later recorded a conversation between Rossi and da Silva in which police said da Silva accused Rossi of stealing money.
“How do we fix this without it blowing up completely?” police said Rossi asked da Silva, volunteering to repay the money in installments.
Police said a second audit of the Stratford restaurant determined that someone also later identified Rossi had used the restaurant’s computer system to steal $21,236 by voiding cash sales and pocketing the money.