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Case Number: 1:18-cr-10364-DPW
Judge: Douglas P. Woodlock
Court: United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts (Suffolk County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office
Description: Boston, MA: Criminal defense lawyer represented defendant charged with conspiracy to defraud and to extort money from marijuana vendors.
Jasiel F. Correia II, the former Mayor of Fall River, Mass., was charged for his involvement in a scheme to defraud investors and extorting and conspiring to extort marijuana vendors for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In October 2018, Correia was indicted on charges of wire fraud and filing false tax returns. He was subsequently charged in a superseding indictment in September 2019 with, among other crimes, extortion conspiracy and extortion.
“Jasiel Correia was a corrupt and deceitful politician who could only be stopped by federal prosecution. Now he is a felon and will be a federal inmate,” said Nathaniel R. Mendell, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts. “Mr. Correia lied to investors, sold his office, and has no remorse for his crimes. That warrants a significant prison term, which is why the government recommended an 11-year sentence.”
“Jasiel Correia’s conscious decision to fleece investors, extort hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes, and cheat on his taxes has now cost him his freedom. He has proven to be a pervasive liar who has shown absolutely no remorse or empathy for his victims, and today he has been held accountable. Sadly, his actions have further eroded the public’s trust in government, and deeply hurt the citizens of Fall River,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “Let his sentence serve as a stark reminder that if you commit crimes, your status as an elected official will not protect you. The FBI is committed to rooting out public corruption and holding officials like him accountable.”
“As the Mayor of Fall River, Jasiel Correia held the public’s trust in his hands and was positioned to serve those individuals that elected him. Instead, he squandered that opportunity and was exposed as a corrupt politician,” said Joleen D. Simpson, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division, Boston Field Office. “It is a shame that an individual with such a bright future decided to misuse his elected office for personal gain. Today’s sentencing sends a clear message that corrupt public officials will pay dearly for the choices they make.”
“Jasiel Correia abused the public trust,” said Massachusetts Inspector General Glenn A. Cunha. “His sentencing should serve as a reminder that the Massachusetts Inspector General and our federal partners will ensure that officials who enrich themselves at the public’s expense will pay a personal price.”
In 2012, Correia founded SnoOwl, an app designed to connect local businesses with their target consumer market. Seven individuals invested a total of approximately $360,000 in SnoOwl. Correia used approximately $230,000 – 64% of the money invested – to fund his own lavish lifestyle, burgeoning political career and other business ventures. Specifically, Correia used the investment funds to purchase tens of thousands of dollars of luxury items, including a Mercedes, jewelry and designer clothing; to pay for personal travel and entertainment, including tens of thousands of dollars on airfare, hotels, restaurants, casinos and adult entertainment; to pay down personal student loan debt; to fund his political campaign; and to make charitable donations in his own name.
To conceal his theft of funds from investors, Correia refused to provide the company’s financial records and gave false positive updates on SnoOwl’s status. Additionally, in May 2017, Correia instructed an accountant to file amended 2013 and 2014 personal tax returns in an effort to conceal his fraudulent activity from the IRS.
After taking office as Fall River Mayor in January 2016, Correia agreed to issue non-opposition letters to marijuana vendors in return for cash bribes and other payments. Under Massachusetts law, non-opposition letters from the head of local government are required in order to obtain a license to operate a marijuana business. Correia, as Mayor, was solely responsible for approving all non-opposition letters in Fall River. In addition, applicants seeking marijuana licenses are required to enter into host community agreements, between the marijuana company and the local government, stating that the company will give up to 3% of its gross sales to the local government.
Four marijuana vendors agreed to pay bribes ranging from over $75,000 up to $250,000 in cash, campaign contributions and mortgage discharges to Correia and his co-conspirators in return for non-opposition letters and host community agreements.
Acting U.S. Attorney Mendell; FBI Boston SAC Bonavolonta; IRS-CI SAC Simpson; Christina Scaringi, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, Northeast Regional Office; and Massachusetts Inspector General Cunha made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zachary Hafer, David Tobin, Carol E. Head and Mark T. Quinlivan of Mendell’s Office prosecuted the case.
Outcome: Correia was sentenced to six years in prison and three years of supervised release.