Former City Official Pleads Guilty to Bribery, Extortion in Cannabis Licensing Probe

The former chief of staff for Fall River, Massachusetts Mayor Jasiel Correia — who was arrested and accused of extorting local cannabis businesses — has pleaded guilty to extortion, bribery, and making false statements in the licensing corruption probe.

Full story after the jump.

Genoveva Andrade, the third chief of staff to former Fall River, Massachusetts Mayor Jasiel Correia, on Monday pleaded guilty to charges of extortion, bribery, and making false statements in connection with Correia’s scheme to extort cannabis businesses.

Andrade, 49, admitted to conspiring with Correia to extort a cannabusiness for $150,000 in return for a letter of non-opposition from the then-mayor. Under Massachusetts law, non-opposition letters from the heads of local governments are required to obtain a cannabis industry license. According to the Justice Department, after the vendor agreed to pay Correia for the letter, Andrade said to him, “you’re family now.”

Andrade also admitted to conspiring with Correia to extort a Fall River business owner and obtain a variety of benefits, including cash and a Rolex watch valued between $7,500 to $12,000, in exchange for official action and favorable assistance to the business owner.

Andrade also admitted that as chief of staff she kicked back half of her salary, about $23,000, to Correia on a bi-weekly basis. She also kicked back nearly all of the $10,000 city-funded “snow stipend” that was approved by Correia.

The two extortion charges each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Andrade said she made the false statements to federal agents in December 2018 in connection with the corruption investigation into Correia.

Correia is alleged to have generated some $600,000 in the non-opposition letters scheme and made arrangements for future cuts of the companies’ cannabis sales.

A sentencing hearing for Andrade is set for April 27, 2021. Correia is set to go to trial, facing 24 counts, on February 2, 2021.

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