Petitions circulating to recall indicted mayor Correia

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FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — An affidavit calling for the recall of Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia has been approved by the city’s board of elections, and a petition will start circulating soon in the recall effort.

The city clerk’s office confirmed Monday that the elections board certified the group of citizens who signed the affidavit were all registered voters. Petition sheets were being printed. A deadline of Nov. 19 is now set to get signatures of 5% of the registered voters in Fall River.

That’s a minimum of 2,510 signatures, said Joseph Pereira, a spokesman for the recall effort. And he said the core group will be canvassing avidly: “Outside of stores, outside of the polls next week during the elections; we will be door-to-door, and we will just keep this ball rolling,” until the minimum number of signatures are certified. 

Correia, the city’s youngest mayor, was indicted earlier this month on charges of wire fraud and filing false tax returns, accused of defrauding investors who put money into his smartphone app business.

The office of Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said he used money earmarked for the business to instead “fund his own lavish lifestyle, burgeoning political career, and the needs of his other business ventures.” The indictment said none of the seven investors have been paid.

The mayor pleaded not guilty, denies any wrongdoing and claims political foes orchestrated the allegations. He’s said multiple times he’s not stepping down.

The recall campaign now has a website, a Twitter handle and a Facebook page.

“Jasiel F. Correia II is now tainted by federal indictments that cannot be ignored… No reasonable person would do business with the office of mayor or the City of Fall River,” the group’s mission statement says. “The public opinion and sentiment is that fraud indictments of his personal and business dealings will reflect on the city and call into question his honesty and integrity in regards to city business and funds thereof.”

Once the signatures are gathered and verified, Correia would have five days to resign. If he doesn’t, a special election would be scheduled.

The city council decided not to take a vote at their Oct. 23 regular meeting on whether to simply suspend or sanction the mayor, though an attorney for the city has disputed whether the council can even do that in this case. The city charter says only a coalition of voters can recall the mayor and the council does not have that power.

Correia’s predecessor was Sam Sutter, who was voted into office after Mayor Will Flanagan was recalled himself under a dark cloud — allegations that he flashed a gun threateningly at Correia in a private meeting.

Steph Machado contributed to this report.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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