UPDATED 10:16 AM PT — Monday, September 9, 2019
Yet again, federal authorities have arrested the Democrat mayor of Fall River, Massachusetts — this time for allegedly extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from marijuana vendors.
The already embattled mayor, Jasiel Correia, is now accused of operating a scheme to help marijuana stores conduct business in exchange for six-figure payments from four cannabis companies. Federal prosecutors say he agreed to sign non-opposition letters for money, which are required to obtain a license to operate cannabis shops in the town.
“From 2016 to 2018, he did this to at least four separate would-be marijuana vendors in Fall River,” explained Andrew Lelling, U.S. attorney for the district of Massachusetts. “Total agreed payments to Correia topped $600,00.”
Correia already faces separate federal fraud and tax evasion charges. Prosecutors slammed the mayor as corrupt and as someone who is willing to do anything to keep up with his lavish lifestyle.and political campaigns.
“Mayor Correia has engaged in an outrageous, brazen campaign of corruption, which turns his job into a personal atm,” stated Lelling.”He has essentially run that town as a pay-to-play institution.”
Four others, including former chief of staff Genoveva Andrade, were also charged with federal crimes. According to officials, Andrade is accused of not only helping with the alleged bribes, but also paying the mayor half her salary to keep her job.
Meanwhile, his latest scandal marks the second time in less than a year the 27-year-old mayor has been indicted. Back in October, he was previously arrested on charges of filing false tax returns and wire fraud. According to prosecutors, Correia defrauded investors of an app company known as SnoOwl after he pocketed more than half of their payments to his personal bankroll.
Correria now faces a total of 24 charges to which he has pleaded not guilty. The Fall River mayor has continued to defend his innocence and has refused to resign.
“I’m not guilty of these charges, I’ve done nothing but good things for the great city of Fall River — me and my staff and my team — and I’m gonna continue to do great things,” he claimed.
The majority of the charges against Correia come with a max penalty of 20-years in prison.