The Latest: Mayor pleads not guilty to defrauding investors
BOSTON (AP) — The Latest on the arrest of a Massachusetts mayor on federal fraud charges (all times local):
A Massachusetts mayor has pleaded not guilty to misusing money investors had given him for his company and says he will not resign.
Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia (JAY’-zil koh-RAY’-uh) pleaded not guilty Thursday in federal court in Boston to wire fraud and filing false tax returns.
Correia told reporters after the hearing that he will fight the charges and won’t resign. He is expected to speak at City Hall later Thursday.
The 26-year-old mayor was arrested early Thursday and is accused of defrauding investors in his app development company and using the money to purchase expensive personal items and advance his political career.
A spokesman for Massachusetts Republican Gov. Charlie Baker says the governor considers federal charges against the mayor of Fall River “very serious,” but stops short of indicating whether Baker believes Jasiel Correia should resign.
The governor’s re-election campaign on Thursday removed Correia’s endorsement from its website. Correia was among 10 Democratic Massachusetts mayors who last month endorsed the Republican over his Democratic challenger, Jay Gonzalez.
The 26-year-old Correia is accused of defrauding investors in his app development company and using the money to purchase expensive personal items and advance his political career.
Correia’s office says he’s expected to speak at City Hall later Thursday.
Baker’s campaign spokesman, Terry MacCormack, says the governor will work with officials and residents of Fall River to “ensure the city has the representation and leadership it deserves” going forward.
The head of the FBI’s Boston office says a Massachusetts mayor charged with spending investor funds to buy luxury items and pay down student loan debt was “underhanded, shameless and greedy.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Hank Shaw told reporters Thursday that Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia used investments in his company as his “own personal ATM,” spending it on casinos, hotels, adult entertainment and a Mercedes.
Prosecutors say Correia collected more than $360,000 from investors to develop an app that was supposed to help businesses connect with target consumers. They say he spent more than $230,000 of that to support his lavish lifestyle and his political career while deceiving investors.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said: “This was not about poor accounting or honest mistakes.”
Correa was arrested early Thursday in Bridgewater. His lawyer didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
A Massachusetts mayor who was first elected at age 23 is facing criminal charges.
The U.S. attorney for Massachusetts announced Thursday that Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia was arrested and charged with defrauding investors and using funds to pay for lavish lifestyle and political campaigns.
Federal prosecutors have scheduled a news conference for Thursday morning to discuss the case.
A voicemail message left at the 26-year-old Correia’s office was not immediately returned.
According to his online biography, the Democratic Correia first ran for the Fall River City Council at age 21 in 2013.
He is a lifelong city resident who attended Providence College and is the city’s first mayor of Cape Verdean descent.