Fall River mayor says hes innocent of fraud charges, wont be resigning

Fall River mayor says he\s innocent of fraud charges, won\t be resigning
Young mayor arrested after using nearly a quarter-million dollars of investor funds for personal gain, officials say
Jasiel Correia, the mayor of Fall River, collected more than $360,000 from investors to develop an app that was supposed to help businesses connect with target consumers, federal authorities say. Instead, he spent more than $230,000 of the investor funds to bankroll a lavish lifestyle and advance his political career, officials say.

“His actions were underhanded, shameless and greedy,” said FBI agent Hank Shaw. “Mr. Correia blurred the lines between public business and private duties, using investor funds as his own personal ATM, systemically looting almost a quarter-million dollars.”

Now 26, the Democrat was elected as a city councilor in 2013 and after one term was elected mayor in 2015, the youngest mayor in the history of the old mill city of about 85,000 people and the first of Cape Verdean descent. The U.S. Conference of Mayors said at the time he was the youngest mayor to run a city as large as Fall River. He won re-election handily in November.

He pleaded not guilty to nine counts of wire fraud and four counts of filing false tax returns as Magistrate Judge M. Page Kelley set unsecured bond of $10,000, a sum Correia would only have to pay if he fails to appear in court. After being set free, Correia changed into a blue suit, red tie, and Fall River lapel pin, and then denied the charges after leaving court.

Correia was arrested early Thursday in Bridgewater and charged with wire fraud and filing false tax returns. He is expected to appear in federal court in Boston on Thursday afternoon. His defense attorney didnt return a request for comment. The mayors office said Correia was expected to provide a statement after his arraignment.

Correia founded SnoOwl in 2012 and began the next year to seek investors in return for equity in his company, the indictment says. While he spent the funds for his personal gain, U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said, he lied to investors about the progress of the app as the company floundered.

FILE- In this Jan. 6, 2016, file photo newly elected Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia talks in his city hall office in Fall River, Mass. A Massachusetts mayor was arrested Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, and charged with defrauding investors in a company he formed out of more than $230,000 and using the funds to enhance his political career and pay for a lavish lifestyle, federal prosecutors said. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, File)

Indictment shows Correia knew of FBI probe despite denying knowledge on campaign trail

NewsNewsFyre Festival organizer Billy McFarland sentenced to 6 years on fraud chargesProsecutors allege Correia stole at least $231,447 from seven investors in SnoOwl. Authorities say he also filed false tax returns as soon as he learned he was under federal investigation.

Feds: Correia Used Investor Funds to Buy Car, Vacations, and More

Prosecutors say he used the money to purchase tens of thousands of dollars of luxury items, including jewelry for an ex-girlfriend, designer clothing and a Mercedes; to pay for personal travel and entertainment; to fund his political campaign; to pay down his student loan debt; and to make charitable donations in his own name.

Read the federal indictment against Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia accused of stealing investor money

“During the election, he even touted his stewardship of SnoOwl as one of his primary qualifications to be mayor of the town,” Lelling said.

Reached by phone, Bernier said the state's timeline was off and that he had actually resigned the year before. Asked what led to his resignation, Bernier confirmed he had testified before a federal grand jury about one year ago but declined to answer questions about the case.

In September 2017, Correia confirmed to the Fall River Herald that he was the subject of a federal investigation regarding the company. He denied wrongdoing at the time and said the investigation was brought on by political opponents.

At a news conference, U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling said Correia instructed his accountant to make the changes "in an effort to account for the diverted investor funds that he had previously failed to report as income."

Correia attended Providence College in Rhode Island and in 2014 was named entrepreneur of the year by the Fall River Area Chamber of Commerce, according to his online biography, which called him “a classic example of a Fall River kid made good.”

Correia pleaded not guilty to nine counts of wire fraud and four counts of filing false tax returns. Prosecutors say he misused $231,000 of the $363,000 he accepted from seven investors in SnoOwl, while misleading them about the business.

Video: Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia Charged With Shameless And Greedy Fraud

New Bedford Mayor Reacts to Indictment of Correia [VIDEO]

Fall River is a working-class city of about 87,000 residents in southeastern Massachusetts, some 55 miles from Boston. It is perhaps most famous for Lizzie Borden, who was accused but later acquitted of killing her father and stepmother with an ax in 1892.

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Correia was recently among 10 Democratic mayors in Massachusetts who chose to endorse Republican Gov. Charlie Baker for re-election in November over Bakers Democratic challenger, Jay Gonzalez.

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Fall River mayor arrested, charged with defrauding investors to fund lavish lifestyle

Terry MacCormack, a Baker campaign spokesman, said the governor believes the charges are “very serious” and will work with officials to ensure the city has strong leadership as Correias case moves forward.

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Correias Arrest Leaves Fall River Staggering [OPINION]

In this Jan. 6, 2016, file photo, newly elected Mayor Jasiel Correia talks in his city hall office in Fall River, Massachusetts.  (AP)

Video: Mayor of Fall River charged with defrauding investors, using funds for lavish lifestyle

A Democratic mayor from Massachusetts, who was first elected at age 23, was arrested Thursday after a federal probe found that he allegedly stole nearly $250,000 from investors to fund his lavish lifestyle and pay down his student debts.

Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia II was arrested Thursday after authorities say he stole money from investors in a company he founded. 

Mayor of Fall River Jasiel Correia, now 26, was arrested after allegedly stealing $231,447 from investors – money that was supposed to develop an app which connected businesses with target consumers.

The federal records in the case, unsealed after the mayors arrest, detail the allegations by federal investigators. 

The app, SnowOwl, received $360,000 from investors but federal authorities say that most of that money was spent by Correia.

Now 26, the Democrat was elected as a city councilor in 2013 and after one term was elected mayor in 2015, the youngest mayor in the history of the old mill city of about 85,000 people and the first of Cape Verdean descent. The U.S. Conference of Mayors said at the time he was the youngest mayor to run a city as large as Fall River. He won re-election handily in November.

He allegedly spent tens of thousands of dollars on designer clothing, a Mercedes-Benz and jewelry for an ex-girlfriend. He also used the money for personal travel, adult entertainment and campaign funds, and even paid down his student debt.

Video: Fall River Mayor Arrested, Accused Of Fraud

"Mr. Correia blurred the lines between public business and private duties, using investor funds as his own personal ATM, systemically looting almost a quarter-million dollars,” he continued.

Video: Fall River Mayor Arrested, Accused Of Fraud

He is charged with wire fraud and filing false tax returns – something prosecutors allege he did as soon as he learned he was under federal investigation.

“Ive done nothing wrong. If you look at my track record as mayor all you see is positive results,” he told media gathered outside in the rain. “I was elected and re-elected with 65 percent of the vote in Fall River and if you look at those bogus charges or whatever theyre called there is not a single thing…I did wrong as the mayor of the city of Fall River.”

Video: Fall River Mayor Arrested, Accused Of Fraud

Correia was elected as city councilor in 2013 as a Democrat and then he was elected as mayor of Fall River in 2015, just one term later. He easily won reelection.

Correia was arrested by FBI and IRS agents at a home in Bridgewater at 6:30 a.m. Thursday. Andrew Lelling, U.S. Attorney for the district of Massachusetts, alleges the mayor spent more than half of the money Massachusetts residents invested in his app SnoOwl on personal items.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors said at the time he was the youngest mayor to run a city as large as Fall River, with a population of roughly 87,000.

In a statment to Fox News, Correia denied any wrongdoing saying he is "innocent of all the allegations and charges made against" him, adding he will "absolutely not" resign from office.

Fall River is most famous for Lizzie Borden, who was accused but later acquitted of killing her father and stepmother with an ax in 1892.


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