FALL RIVER (CBS) — Gov. Charlie Baker says Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia, who was arrested this week on 13 counts of fraud in federal court, should step aside from his mayoral duties until the case is resolved.
“I think the best thing to do would be for the mayor to step aside, deal with this issue wherever it goes, and give the city a chance to operate sort of out from under that,” Baker said Friday.
Correia, 26, is charged with defrauding investors and using the money to pay for his “lavish lifestyle” and political campaign, according to prosecutors. He returned to work on Friday morning with no plans to resign as mayor.
“I’m back at work. I’m here to work and do the people’s business. I was elected to do the job and it is my job to be the mayor, and until such time that it isn’t my job, I’m going to continue to do my job,” Correia told reporters while at work on Friday.
The City Council President has also scheduled a special meeting “to discuss the recent criminal indictment of Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia. As well as to discuss any council motions that the council may make regarding the leadership of our city.” The meeting was scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
In 2012, Correia created the SnoOwl app, which aimed to connect local businesses with potential customers, and began looking for investors. According to federal investigators, Correia took at least $231,447 of the $363,690 that seven investors placed in the company, and used it for items including airfare, luxury hotels, casinos, adult entertainment, a Mercedes Benz, and jewelry for an ex-girlfriend.
Investigators also said the mayor filed false tax returns in 2013 and 2014 and never mentioned SnoOwl in those returns. Prosecutors allege Correia then amended those returns in May 2017 “after learning that he and SnoOwl were the targets of a federal investigation.”
Correia has been mayor of Fall River since 2015.
“I’ve done nothing wrong, if you look at my track record as mayor all you see is positive results,” he told reporters following his arraignment in federal court in Boston Thursday afternoon.
A judge ordered him released with his case continued until December 6.
“I love the city of Fall River, there are no plans to resign,” Correia said Thursday.
Fall River city councilor Steve Camara told WBZ-TV in an e-mail he would not vote to remove Correia from office, saying he believes the mayor “has the right to defend his ‘not guilty’ plea in court.”