Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia arrested on new charges
FALL RIVER, Mass (WLNE) – Mayor Jasiel Correia was arrested Friday morning by federal authorities on new charges.
In a press conference at the Massachusetts US Attorneys Office, it was said that Correia was arrested for “allegedly extorting marijuana vendors for cash.” They added that Correia extorted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to these vendors.
According to documents from the US Attorneys Office, Correia, along with other conspirators planned to extort up to $250,000 from a marijuana vendor in exchange for a non-opposition letter which would allow the business to open. Correia also promised the vendor that he would only allow five or six marijuana vendors to open in the city.
Meanwhile Correia was allegedly conspiring with two other prospective marijuana vendors. In those cases he planned to extort $100,000 and $150,000 in exchange for non-opposition letters.
In addition he allegedly extorted a building owner for cash and a Rolex watch in exchange for helping activate water supply to a commercial building.
In court on Friday afternoon Correia plead not guilty to all 24 charges held against him. The judge ordered him held on a $25,000 bond to be paid by the end of the day on Tuesday, of which only 10% must be paid. Correia was ordered to stay away from anyone involved in the case and is only allowed to travel between Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Outside of court the mayor doubled down on his not guilty plea, saying "I’m not guilty of these charges. I’ve done nothing but good for the great city of Fall River.”
Four other people were also charged on Friday.
One of those was Correia's former Chief of Staff Genoveva Andrade of Somerset. According to the indictment, Correia agreed to keep Andrade on as his Chief of Staff under the agreement that she would give him half of her salary along with a $10,000 bonus she would be receiving from the mayor as a "snow stipend."
In total Andrade allegedly gave Correia $22,800 between the months of November 2017 and July 2018.
In court on Friday Andrade was charged with extortion, extortion conspiracy, theft and bribery, and false statements. She was released on a $150,000 unsecured bond, and ordered to restrict travel to MA and RI. She also was ordered to have no contact with others involved in the case.
Along with Correia and Andrade, Antonio Costa of Fall River, Hildegar Camara of Fall River, and David Herbert of Westport, were also brought up on extortion charges. They are expected in court at a later date.
All of this comes after the mayor was arrested in October of 2018 for allegedly defrauding investors and using their money to support a “lavish lifestyle.” Investors thought their money was being used to kick start his app SnoOwl. His trail for those charges is set to begin on February 24, 2020.
Despite the former charges, the mayor narrowly won a special election back in March keeping him in office. He is on the ballot for the upcoming re-election in November.
In a statement made to ABC6 News by City Council President Cliff Ponte on Friday he said "this is an unfortunate day for the residents of Fall River. Fall River is a resilient community that will get through this tough time."
He later said that it is not the councils job to act as a judge, but didn’t rule out entertaining a resolution in the future related to removing the mayor.
Check back with ABC6 News as this story develops.
WLNE-TV / ABC6 2019