BOSTON (WPRI) — Federal prosecutors plan to challenge the decision by a federal judge to toss out 10 of the 21 guilty counts against Jasiel Correia after his trial.
Correia, the former mayor of Fall River, was convicted by a jury in May of 21 out of 24 charges against him. The jurors heard evidence during a three-week trial that Correia defrauded investors in his tech app SnoOwl, lied on his taxes, and shook down marijuana vendors for bribes.
But during his sentencing hearing in September, U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock entered a judgment of acquittal in eight of the 21 guilty counts. He later tossed out two more.
The acquitted counts of wire and tax fraud were all related to SnoOwl, though three SnoOwl-related convictions remain in place. The judge also kept in place all of Correia’s convictions related to shaking down marijuana businessmen for bribes when he was mayor of Fall River.
In a one-page filing in U.S. District Court in Boston Monday, acting Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Nathaniel Mendell said the government would appeal all 10 of Woodlock’s acquittals to the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals. The document did not elaborate on the arguments behind the appeal.
While typically the government can’t appeal acquittals, in this case the prosecution had a right to appeal because the judge overturned a jury’s decision to convict Correia on the charges.
One of Correia’s attorneys, Daniel Marx, declined to comment on the prosecution’s appeal. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office also declined to comment.
In tossing six of the wire fraud counts against Correia, Woodlock said prosecutors did not prove a key requirement for the federal wire fraud crime: that interstate wire communications were used.
Prosecutors said bank documents show Correia cashed checks from investors in Massachusetts, which were then processed by Rhode Island-based Citizens Bank.
But such details of the back-end interstate processing of the checks were not presented during the three-week trial before a jury earlier this year.
“There’s no such testimony here,” Woodlock said, referring to the record from the trial.
Prosecutors pointed out that the government as well as Correia’s defense attorney for the trial, Kevin Reddington, agreed to the interstate wire transfer element prior to trial.
“You will see here that one of the stipulations is that defense and the government agree to the interstate communications here,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Hafer told the jury, according to a transcript from the trial. “They agree the emails crossed state lines and the checks processed across state lines.”
In tossing out the counts involving checks from David Cabeceiras, Mark Eisenberg, Victor Martinez and Stephen Miller, Woodlock did not contend that Correia didn’t spend the investors’ money on himself; in fact, part of Correia’s sentence still includes restitution to the victims in the acquitted counts.
The judge called the marijuana extortion the “core” of the case, primarily contributing to the six-year prison sentence he ultimately handed down.
Correia is appealing the remaining guilty counts against him. He is scheduled to report to federal prison on December 3. His lawyers have asked the court to allow Correia to remain free pending appeal.