Boston-Area Mayor Accused of Conning Investors Out of $363,000

A Boston-area mayor who was elected in the small town of Fall River was was elected at the age of 23 was charged last October for using investments he created as his own ATM to enjoy a lavish lifestyle, including adult entertainment and casinos. He also was accused of using investors’ money to fund his lifestyle and pay off student loans.

Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia was federally indicted on nine counts of wire fraud and four counts of filing fax tax returns. He allegedly collected more than $363,000 from investors to develop a phone app that would connect merchants in Fall River with customers.

Fall River is located 55 miles from Boston, and the scandal has been making headlines here for months.

The Department of Justice stated that the Boston-area mayor took $231,000 of that money and used it for illegal activities, including business adventures, his political operation and charitable donations in his personal name. Federal agents also said he spent tens of thousands of dollars on cars, clothing, electronics and more. (thedailybeast.com).

DOJ also alleges he attempted to hide his fraud by giving investors fake updates about the app and would not provide financial records for the developing company. He also was accused of lying to the Internal Revenue Service and filing false tax returns, a form of white collar crime.

The FBI had few kinds words to say about Correia, noting that he his actions were ‘shameless, greedy and underhanded.’ FBI agent Hank Shaw said the mayor blurred the vital line between public business and his private affairs, and looted investors in the Boston area of almost $250,000. (Boston.com).

The Democrat is now 26 years old and was first elected as a Falls River city councilor in 2013. After a single term, he was elected mayor in 2015 for the small town near Boston. Fall River is an old mill town of 85,000 people. At the time, the US Conference of Mayors reported he was the youngest mayor to ever run for a town of that size.

Correia was placed under arrest by federal officers in Bridgewater, Massachusetts last October. He was charged with wire fraud and filing false tax returns to the IRS.

Correia Created Web Company in 2012

Correia was the founder of the Internet company SnoOwl in 2012. The next year, he starting hunting for investors in return for a stake in the company. The federal government alleges the mayor spent most the funds for personal gain and pleasure. He also allegedly lied to investors about the progress of the Web app.

Federal prosecutors say that Correia stole approximately $231,000 from seven investors in the company. Law enforcement also allege he filed fake tax returns as soon as he knew he was under federal investigation.

Prosecutors reported that he was using the money to buy jewels for his girlfriend, an expensive Mercedes and designer suits. He also funded his personal travel and entertainment with investor funds.

It was ironic, federal agents said, because during his 2015 run for mayor, he noted his leadership of SnoOwl as one of his major qualifications to become mayor.

Corriea Has Rhode Island Pedigree

Corriea went to Providence College in Rhode Island. He was named in 2014 as entrepreneur of the year by the Fall River Area Chamber of Commerce. His online bio said that he was a good example of a local kid who made something of himself.

Recall Election Scheduled for March 12

Despite the fact that the mayor has repeated denied charges of wire fraud and filing false tax returns, he has declined to step down. A group that wants to fire Correia as mayor turned in petitions for a recall election in February. They city clerk’s office announced earlier this month that the Board of Election Commissioners certified all of the recall petitions from 4,530 registered voters. This is far more than the 2,500 needed for the recall process to proceed.

The group that wants to oust the acting mayor collected citizen signatures over 20 days. They only had to obtain signatures from 5% of the registered voters of Fall River. They easily surpassed this threshold.

A recall spokesman said that he was very pleased with the results of the petition drive, noting he was very thankful to every citizen who worked on the recall measure.

Once they had enough signatures to put the measure on the ballot, the signatures and petitions were sent to City Council to notify the mayor. He had five days from the day he received the letter to quit as mayor. Corriea still would not resign. (wpri.com).

Recall Election

Just weeks before the recall that could oust him from office, the mayor abolished the town’s controversial ‘pay as you throw’ purple bag program. Correia said the move was being made because Fall River had sufficient financial stability to do so. But City Council President Cliff Ponte thinks the timing of the action is entirely political. Ponte said he thinks the mayor is trying to influence voters to keep him in office with the popular move.

Paul Coogan is one candidate running against the mayor and he noted he was suspicious of the timing of thea action, too. Coogan said that the mayor had 500 days to take the action and he could have done it at any time.

However, Correia said the announcement was not political, and the elimination of the program was essential. He said that all residents and businesses that must buy the purple bags for environmental reasons no longer have to do so. The mayor said if people want to say it is political, they can do so, ‘but the public’s getting a big benefit from the move, so we are pleased to do it.” (wpri.com).

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