FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — The second arrest of Fall River’s mayor in less than a year sent shockwaves through the city.
Federal authorities arrested Jasiel Correia Friday morning at his home. According to an indictment, he’s accused of extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from marijuana vendors.
“This is an unfortunate day for the residents and taxpayers of Fall River,” said City Council President Cliff Ponte. “Fall River is a resilient community that will get through this tough time.”
During a news conference at Government Center, Ponte said City Council is ready to move forward, adding that Correia is innocent until proven guilty.
City Councilman Stephen Long called the arrest a “nightmare.”
“It breaks my heart for the city. It’s just a bad day,” he said.
Correia is currently running for re-election. Eyewitness News confirmed with the Board of Elections that regardless of what happens with Correia’s criminal case, his name will still appear on the Sept. 17 ballot.
The mayor’s opponents – Paul Coogan and Erica Scott-Pacheco – both commented Friday about the arrest.
Coogan, who narrowly lost to Correia after the mayor was recalled in March, said he plans to stay the course with his campaign.
“I was sad for the city, I was sad for his family and that’s obviously not any way I was trying to win an election,” Coogan told Eyewitness News. “We don’t really run against other people. We’re running for Fall River and I think we can do a better job.”
In a statement, Scott-Pacheco said was a bit stronger in her condemnation of Correia:
“Jasiel Correia is alleged to have carefully cultivated a culture of corruption and bribery to victimize our city. I am shocked to read the federal indictment describing how Correia used OUR office and manipulated public staff (paid by OUR tax dollars) to enrich his personal life. I am deeply concerned about this predatory behavior by our city’s top leader.
“Jasiel Correia taking bribes and kickbacks, down payments for a luxury Mercedes, and Rolex watches all make one thing clear to me: Correia’s priority is sustaining his “lavish lifestyle”, not the working families and seniors in our city.”— Erica Scott-Pacheco
Congressman Joe Kennedy, a Democrat who represents part of Fall River, “thinks the mayor should step down,” a Kennedy spokesperson said in an email Friday, adding, “He said the same after the last indictment.”
Democratic Congressman Bill Keating, who represents the rest of the city in Washington, said: “While I believe everyone is innocent until proven guilty, as I have said before, I believe the mayor should resign. That is in the best interest of the city.”
Former Bristol County District Attorney and Fall River’s 43rd Mayor Sam Sutter said he wasn’t surprised to hear of Correia’s latest arrest.
“I think he’s finished politically,” Sutter said. “I think maybe, we’ve just scratched the surface on the damage he’s done to the city.”
Sutter, who lost the mayoral race to Correia in 2015, said he’s been hearing rumors for months about the new charges he’s facing.
“I actually ran into somebody a few days ago who is generally in the know, and this person said, ‘It’s coming. It’s coming soon,'” Sutter said.
Sutter expects and hopes that under new leadership, the city will do well.