The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission has been granted permission to review documents related to cannabis companies tied to Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia’s bribery case, NBC 10 News reports. The approval comes after U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling asked a federal judge last week to permit the agency access to the files which include interview reports documenting talks between investigators and five unnamed cannabis firms who interacted with Correia during his time in office, according to WBSM.
All evidence in that case was sealed from the public on December 11, 2018. Correia was arrested last September for allegedly attempting to extort cannabis companies for hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash for “non-opposition” letters. The 27-year-old mayor is accused of illegally generating at least $600,000 from the scheme along with agreements for a cut of future profits from the companies. Correia, who was charged with 24 counts of wire fraud, tax fraud, extortion, and bribery, pleaded not guilty during a September 6, 2019 court appearance.
Lelling had asked the court to grant the commission access to the documents so it could “perform its legitimate regulatory duties.”
Regulators are currently considering whether to issue final licenses to several cannabis businesses in Fall River and the commission may want access to the court documents to determine whether any of the companies they are considering are among the companies linked to Correia’s case. According to state records outlined by WBSM, Hope Heal Health and Northeast Alternatives have already opened in the city, while Greener Leaf and Nature’s Medicines each have provisional licenses from the CCC to operate in the city.
The CCC can revoke or suspend a license “if an individual or entity associated with a marijuana establishment has committed, permitted, aided, or abetted any illegal practices in its operations,” according to court documents.
Two companies have been identified by news outlets, including New Leaf Enterprises, whose president is Pedro Fernandez, the brother of Correia’s girlfriend. Dina Pichette, the wife of the principal of Loop Cultivation, was fined $5,000 last May for illegally donating to Correia’s campaign, according to the Office of Campaign and Political Finance. The Herald News reports that proxies or individuals associated with Hope Heal Health and Northeast Alternatives had also contributed to Correia.