Mayor Jasiel Correia of Fall River, Massachusetts was arrested Friday morning for allegedly attempting to extort cannabis companies for hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, according to a CBS Boston report.
Specifically, Correia — who is 27 years old — 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 said to have illegally generated some $600,000 doing so, as well as alleged arrangements for a future cut in some of the companies’ cannabis sales.
It’s the embattled mayor’s second arrest in less than a year: Correia was arrested in October on 13 federal fraud charges, which ultimately led to his recall — though the young Democratic mayor was re-elected shortly thereafter.
Four other individuals have been charged as the mayor’s co-conspirators, authorities said.
“Despite Mayor Correia’s public assurances to the city of Fall River, based on today’s indictment, he has essentially run that town as a pay-to-play institution. If the allegations in today’s indictment are true, Mayor Correia has engaged in a outrageous, brazen campaign of corruption which turned his job into a personal ATM.” — U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling, during a press conference
Correia appeared in federal court today where he pleaded not guilty; he was released in the afternoon after posting bail. “I’m not guilty of these charges,” he told reporters after leaving the federal court in Boston. “I’ve done nothing but good for the city of Fall River.”
Correia is up for re-election this fall and intends to run. The primary vote is scheduled for September 17.
Last month, the FBI announced it was seeking information about bribery in the cannabis industry.
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