The mayor of Fall River, Massachusetts, was yesterday arrested in connection with an extortion scheme to allow cannabis businesses obtain vendor licences.
Jasiel Correia II, is accused of profiting from signing non-opposition letters to licence applications from vendors looking to sell cannabis products in the city.
The 27-year-old politician, according to federal prosecutors, pocketed six-figure sums from four applicants looking to establish marijuana businesses in Fall River.
Correia was brought before court in Boston last night where he faced 11 charges. He is currently fighting an additional 13 charges resulting from fraud accusations he was arrested for in October last year.
Flanked by his legal team, the mayor left the courts pleading his innocence.
“I’m not guilty of these charges,” he told the waiting press.
“I’ve done nothing but good for the great city of Fall River, me and my staff, and my team.
“I’m going to continue to do great things for our citizens.”
String of accusations
The string of accusations for the embattled Democrat include the extortion of $3,900 and a limited-edition Rolex watch from a property owner in exchange for activating the water services to a building. Prosecutors have also accused him of taking half of his chief of staff’s salary for appointing her to the $78,700 role.
Four associates of Correia – including ex-chief of staff Genoveva Andrade – also face a series of charges.
Accusations laid at Andrade’s door relate to federal extortion, bribery, making false statements, and theft. The others – Hildegar Camara, David Hebert and Antonio Costa – are charged with similar offences.
This isn’t the first time Correia, who was elected to office at the age of 23, has been indicted. He was arrested last year over accusations of massive fraud in relation to a company he owns.
Correia has pleaded not guilty to all charges. Extortion in Massachusetts is punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment, while bribery carries a sentence of up to 10 years.