BOSTON (WPRI) — Prosecutors have asked a judge to release to state regulators the identities of five marijuana vendors interviewed as part of the extortion and bribery case against Fall River’s former mayor.
The motion filed in U.S. District Court in Boston asks that the interviews with the unidentified vendors, listed only as MJ Vendor #1 through #5, be released to the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC), which regulates and licenses marijuana businesses. The information is currently under a protective order by a judge.
The commission needs the information so that it can consider revoking or suspending any entities that may have been involved in illegal practices, according to the motion.
Prosecutors say at least four vendors were extorted for bribes of cash and marijuana by Correia, who allegedly told them it was only way he would give them the required “letter of non-opposition” for the CCC to let the business open.
A 5th unnamed marijuana vendor is also mentioned in the documents, because the vendor met with Correia’s then-chief of staff, Genoveva Andrade — who is also charged in the case — to complain about Vendor #4 receiving a letter of non-opposition. It was during that conversation that Andrade allegedly told the vendor that she had to give half her salary to Correia.
If the motion is approved by Judge Douglas Woodlock, interview reports with all five vendors would be provided to the CCC, but the identities of the vendors would not be made public without a further court order.
The CCC could use the information, however, to tell local officials that it has not identified any concerns with a particular marijuana business seeking to open shop.
Correia, whose trial is set to begin May 4, had sent a total of 14 non-opposition letters to the CCC as of September 2019, when the indictment was filed. He left office in January after stepping aside from his re-election bid last fall. Correia maintains his innocence in this case and the prior indictment for allegedly defrauding investors in his app SnoOwl.
Mayor Paul Coogan won the election and was sworn in last month. He said Friday he does not know who the vendors are that allegedly paid bribes to Correia.
Coogan said he does not plan on issuing any more local approvals beyond what Correia has already sent to the CCC.
“I’m not writing any letters of non-opposition until I know who the 14 are,” Coogan said.
Two entities have so far been authorized by the CCC to operate marijuana businesses in Fall River, including one that opened for recreational sales on Friday. Five other submitted applications are pending before the commission.
A spokesperson for the CCC would not say Friday whether they know if any operational businesses were involved in the Correia case.
“The Cannabis Control Commission would not comment on the details of a federal investigation,” Maryalice Gill Curley said. “The Commission continues to conduct all possible due diligence to ensure marijuana establishments maintain suitability for licensure and has enforcement tools at its disposal if a licensee is found to be in violation of Massachusetts law or regulations.”