Former Fall River, Massachusetts Mayor Jasiel Correia – who was arrested in 2019 and charged with crimes related to extorting cannabis companies – briefly served as a private consultant to cannabis firm Northeast Alternatives, the Herald News reports. The role was approved by the state Ethics Commission in 2018.
He only served in the capacity for one month and there is no evidence in court filings that he received any compensation in that capacity, the report says.
Correia had promised the consulting work would not include city business due to his obvious conflict of interest as mayor but just a week after the Ethics Commission approved the gig, he signed a non-opposition letter and host agreement with the company, the report says.
Four days after getting the approvals, Northeast Alternatives donated $20,000 to Correia’s legal defense fund, which he launched in 2018 as his criminal exposure became public.
Correia is accused of extorting at least four cannabis business operators by soliciting $250,000 each from them in exchange for non-opposition letters from his office. He is alleged to have illegally generated some $600,000 in the scheme as well as alleged arrangements for a future cut in some of the companies’ cannabis sales.
His third chief of staff, Genoveva Andrade, pleaded guilty last year to charges of extortion, bribery, and making false statements in connection with the former mayor’s plot. Andrade admitted to conspiring with Correia to extort a cannabusiness for $150,000 in return for a letter of non-opposition from the then-mayor, 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, and 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.
Northeast Alternative CEO Christopher Harkins is expected to be called as a material witness in the federal case, the trial for which is set to begin April 20.
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