Jury selection begins in trial of former Fall River mayor Jasiel Correia
BOSTON, M.A. (WLNE) — The federal corruption trial of former Fall River Mayor, Jasiel Correia, began Tuesday morning with jury selections.
The court is sifting through 60 different people, of which 12 will become jurors in the trial and 2-4 will become alternate jurors.
Jury selections are expected to wrap up by Thursday, with opening arguments in the trial starting Monday, April 26th.
Correia faces more than 20 charges of extortion, bribery, wire fraud, conspiracy and filing false tax returns.
If convicted of any of the charges, he could face decades behind bars.
Following opening statements, the prosecution is up early next week.
They have 35 witnesses lined up expected to make the case that the former mayor extorted $600,000 from different marijuana vendors in return for licenses to set up shop in the city, just as recreational pot became legal in Massachusetts.
“The city of Fall River had the ability to issue certain licenses, which were valuable in nature,” explained ABC6 legal analyst, Ken Schreiber. “Whoever got the jump on those licenses were bound to make the money early on.”
Correa also faces charges of wire fraud and filing false tax returns, which date back to 2013 when he sought $300,000 from investors for his now defunct app called SnoOwl.
Correia allegedly spent those funds on a new Mercedes Benz, designer clothes, and a lavish lifestyle.
“What I see in this case is a trail of money that winds up in his pocket,” said Schreiber. “If he takes the witness stand, he exposes himself to a vigorous cross-examination as to how that money ended up in his pockets and how it was characterized.”
“It’s almost an impossible burden to overcome because they have his income tax returns from those year, which show nothing,” said Schreiber. “He did not document any of the investment money he received.”
Correia, now 29, was first elected to office when he was just 23 years old. He was re-called as Fall River’s mayor following his first arrest in 2018, but then re-elected in a special election.
In 2019, Correia was arrested again for extortion charges and his campaign to be re-elected as mayor was suspended and ultimately dropped.
Mayor Paul Coogan took over office in January of 2020.