Prosecution, defense rest in Jasiel Correia trial

SE Mass

BOSTON (WPRI) — Both the prosecution and defense rested Thursday in the trial of Jasiel Correia, the former mayor of Fall River accused of fraud, extortion and bribery.

Correia did not testify in his own defense. After the prosecution rested its case mid-morning, the defense presented three brief witnesses before Correia and defense attorney Kevin Reddington had a private conference with the judge. After emerging into open court, Reddington rested his case.

The jury was sent home for the weekend, and closing arguments are expected on Monday.

U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock said he would hold a hearing with attorneys on both sides on Friday to discuss jury instructions, which he will then issue to the jurors after closing arguments.

In all, the jury heard testimony from 36 witnesses over nine days, all but three for the government.

The witnesses ranged from Correia’s college friends to investors in his tech app SnoOwl to marijuana vendors he allegedly extorted as mayor.

Correia is accused of defrauding those SnoOwl investors, spending their money on a “lavish lifestyle” including strip clubs, casinos, designer clothes and a Mercedes Benz.

The jury also heard from Correia’s ex-girlfriend, who prosecutors say was the recipient of gifts and travel that Correia paid for with stolen funds.

In the second half of the trial, jurors heard from prospective marijuana business owners who said they paid bribes to Correia in exchange for non-opposition letters from the city, which were required in order for them to submit applications to the state’s Cannabis Control Commission.

The most explosive testimony came from Charles Saliby, owner of Guimond Farms Convenience Store, who was planning to open a marijuana shop attached to his store.

Saliby claimed Correia asked for a cash bribe during a meeting at the store, then later came to pick it up in his city-owned SUV. He said he got into the passenger seat and gave Correia $75,000 cash in a metal clipboard, and Correia gave him an envelope containing the non-opposition letter.

It was the first time a witness claimed to have been handed a bribe directly to Correia, rather than through a middleman or by donating to his legal defense fund.

Two of Correia’s four co-conspirators in the case testified against him: Hildegar Camara and Tony Costa have both pleaded guilty to their roles as middlemen in the alleged extortion scheme.

But David Hebert – another alleged middleman who has pleaded guilty – did not testify, nor did Correia’s former chief of staff, Genoveva Andrade.

Andrade was originally expected to stand trial alongside Correia. After failed attempts to sever her case from Correia’s, Andrade pleaded guilty in December to aiding Correia in the scheme to extort marijuana vendors. She also admitted to kicking back half of her salary to Correia as a bribe.

The final witness for the prosecution Thursday morning was IRS special agent Sandra Lemanski, who returned to the stand to detail the alleged kickback scheme to the jury. She presented bank records that showed Andrade would receive her paycheck from the city of Fall River, then wrote checks to Correia.

Throughout the trial, Reddington sought to cast doubt on the government’s witnesses, implying that middleman Tony Costa was actually taking the bribes for himself, and pointing to a slew of immunity agreements and plea deals for the witnesses.

“The government ran out of paper giving out their immunity agreements and plea agreements here,” Reddington said.

Reddington called just three witnesses to the stand for brief testimony when it was his turn to present a case Thursday.

Carla Dutra, a secretary for former city corporation counsel Joseph Macy, testified that she mailed Saliby’s letter of non-opposition from the city to his lawyer. (Saliby had testified Correia handed him the letter after he handed over the cash.)

Reached by phone Thursday afternoon, Reddington declined to comment on why he didn’t call Correia to the stand.

Steph Machado (smachado@wpri.com) covers Providence, politics and more for WPRI 12. Connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook

Tim White (twhite@wpri.com) is the Target 12 managing editor and chief investigative reporter at 12 News, and the host of Newsmakers. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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