FALL RIVER (CBS) – A defiant Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia says the federal fraud charges against him are “politically motivated” by his opponents and he will not resign.
Correia addressed the media at the city’s Government Center Tuesday morning in an attempt to refute federal prosecutors claims that he defrauded investors in a company and app that he created. Correia, 26, was arrested last Thursday and pleaded not guilty to charges he stole investors money and used it to pay for a lavish lifestyle and his political campaign.
Before starting a PowerPoint presentation for reporters Tuesday he claimed that the allegations made against him “have nothing to do with his job as the mayor of the city of Fall River” and “are 100-percent false and that I am innocent of every single one of these allegations.”
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. Prosecutors also claim he committed tax fraud and tried to cover it up.
“Through a trial we will prove that that is not true,” he told reporters Tuesday, before repeating his claim that he will not resign. “This is America and I am presumed innocent until proven otherwise. I will not allow political enemies to remove me from office for their own selfish agendas.”
“From day one, this investigation was politically motivated by my opponents and the things that you heard and saw in that indictment were categorized to appear as though I committed a scheme to steal money from investors and didn’t produce a real product that you could physically see and download,” Correia said.
He then went through the PowerPoint presentation to explain the history of the SnoOwl app.
Correia has been mayor of Fall River since 2015. After his arraignment in federal court last Thursday, a judge ordered him released with his case continued until December 6. Correia returned to work Friday. He was served an eviction notice at his apartment Monday.
The City Council has a special meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday to discuss Correia’s case.