BOSTON (WPRI) — Former Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia’s legal team argued Thursday the prosecution made improper statements during his trial, as they aim to overturn his conviction on appeal.
Correia, 30, is appealing his conviction of 11 counts of extortion, conspiracy and wire fraud. He is currently serving a six year prison sentence at a federal prison in New Hampshire, where he has been since April.
During a virtual hearing before a panel of three federal judges on the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, Correia’s attorney Daniel Marx argued the prosecution’s closing statements were inappropriate, causing the jury to be “prejudiced” against Correia, who was mayor of Fall River from 2016 to 2020.
Marx pointed to the prosecution’s use of a video clip of Correia during a mayoral debate in their closing statement, as they argued that he was a dishonest and corrupt politician. He also said the prosecution made sarcastic references.
“Perhaps most troublingly, it referred to him repeatedly as the type of person who would lie, cheat and extort in the sense of having that criminal disposition,” Marx said.
Arguing for the government, attorney Mark Quinlivan disagreed, pointing to the fact that the jury did not convict Correia of every count against him, but instead convicted him of 21 counts and acquitted him of three counts. (A judge later tossed out ten of the convicted counts.)
“The fact that the jury acquitted on some counts indicates that it was not affected to that decree whether that be in terms of spillover prejudice, the closing, or on other claims,” Quinlivan said.
Two of the judges sounded skeptical of Marx’s argument.
“The trial judge rejected each of the arguments you’re making,” said Judge Sandra Lynch.
The judges will take the arguments into consideration and issue a decision at a later date.
Correia was convicted in May of 2021 of shaking down prospective marijuana vendors for bribes and defrauding investors in his defunct app SnoOwl. He was later sentenced to six years in prison, but the start of his sentence was repeatedly delayed until April of this year.
Steph Machado contributed to this report.