Jury begins deliberating 24 criminal counts against ex-mayor Jasiel Correia

SE Mass

BOSTON (WPRI) — The fate of Fall River’s former mayor is now in the hands of 12 jurors.

At 10 a.m. Tuesday, the panel started considering two dozen criminal counts of fraud, filing a false tax return, bribery, and extortion against Jasiel Correia, 29.

The jury deliberated for about six hours before heading home for the day, according to a court spokesperson.

Before deliberations began, the judge handed the jury a written version of the instructions he gave them verbally on Monday, along with a blank verdict form. He’s essentially allowing the jurors to make their own hours, telling them they only have to return to the courtroom if they have a question or the verdict.

Correia stands accused of stealing more than $230,000 from investors in his startup company, accepting bribes from prospective marijuana business owners, and lying to the IRS.

Prosecutors say he used the money to fund a “lavish lifestyle,” spending it on things like a Mercedes, designer clothes, and adult entertainment, as well as his burgeoning political career.

“What he wanted was money, and what he wanted was power. Money he was willing to steal, and power he was willing to sell,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Hafer said during his closing argument on Monday.

Correia denies the allegations.

The charges against him come down to intent, with the judge writing in the instructions: “Even false representations do not amount to violations … unless he did so with fraudulent intent. If Mr. Correia believed that what he was representing to investors was true he can be said to have acted in good faith.”

Correia’s defense attorney, Kevin Reddington, argued that while his client may have made mistakes, it was not with fraudulent intent.

“He thought mistakenly that this was money that was his, because it was his job,” Reddington said, even though multiple witnesses testified that Correia pledged he would not take a salary from his startup company, an app known as SnoOwl.

During the trial, the jury heard testimony from 36 witnesses, 33 of which were called by the prosecution. They ranged from investors and marijuana business owners Correia is accused of wronging to his college friends and ex-girlfriend.

Correia did not take the stand in his own defense.

Steph Machado contributed to this story.

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