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Jasiel Correia appointee agrees to testify against Fall River mayor

Target 12

FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) – The man appointed by Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia to run a job-training program has agreed to testify against him at trial, according to documents unsealed Tuesday.

Hildegar Camara, 58, of Fall River, was charged in the sweeping corruption case against Correia, and has already reached a plea deal with prosecutors. Camara is facing six counts, including extortion, conspiracy and making false statements.

The signed “cooperation agreement” was unsealed at U.S. District Court in Boston on Tuesday, the same day Correia is hoping Fall River voters will support him in the city’s preliminary election for mayor.

In the plea deal, Camara agrees “to cooperate fully with law enforcement agents and government attorneys.” The agreement stipulates Camara “must testify truthfully and completely before any grand jury, and at hearing and trial,” if requested.

Camara signed the document Sept. 4, two days before Correia was arrested at his home in an early morning bust.

Correia appointed Camara to run the Bristol County Training Consortium in July 2016, a job that pays $84,000 a year. He is the brother of City Councilman Joseph Camara.

The Fall River Herald News reported on Monday that Camara had been placed on paid leave from the job.

Camara’s cooperation could benefit him at sentencing. As part of the deal, prosecutors agreed to propose a sentence below the recommended guidelines if he provides “substantial assistance” in the case.

“The U.S. Attorney will make this determination based on the truthfulness and value of defendant’s assistance, regardless of outcome or result of any proceeding or trial,” according to the agreement.

U.S. District Court Judge Mark Wolf has discretion at sentencing, however, and can impose what he sees fit.

Court documents show Wolf asked both the prosecution and defense to provide a reason why the court should keep the cooperation agreement under wraps. On Monday, both sides agreed to let the court unseal the document.

Prosecutors also agree not to use any of the information Camara provides to file additional charges against him, unless he perjures himself or commits a crime of violence.

The additional charges filed earlier this month against the Correia accuse the 27-year-old of extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from marijuana vendors looking to open up shop in Fall River. He has pleaded not guilty. Three local lawmakers are asking state regulators to halt the issuing of pot licenses in the city due to the bribery allegations.

At a news conference the day Correia was arrested for the second time in less than a year, U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling told reporters Correia “has essentially run that town as a pay-to-play institution.”

Last fall, Correia was indicted on federal fraud charges connected to his now-defunct startup SnoOwl, accused of bilking investors of $230,000.

Correia is scheduled to go to trial in February, but his attorney Kevin Reddington told Target 12 he may ask for the two cases to be split into two separate trials.

Correia has repeatedly refused to resign and is actively campaigning to win another term ahead of the preliminary mayoral election Tuesday, where he faces two opponents, Paul Coogan and Erica Scott-Pacheco. The winner will move onto the Nov. 5 general election.

Also on Tuesday, two other co-conspirators pleaded guilty at hearings in federal court. Prosecutors described David Hebert, 54, of Westport, and Antonio Costa, 51, of Fall River, as middleman in the bribery scheme. Hebert is scheduled to be sentenced in December, a date for Costa has not yet been set.

Tim White(twhite@wpri.com) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook

Ted Nesi contributed to this report

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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