Le­gal de­fense fund was es­tab­lished as FBI closed in

Boston Herald - - NEWS - By JOE BATTENFELD — joe.battenfeld@boston­her­ald.com

In­dicted Fall River Mayor Jasiel Cor­reia II raised nearly $77,000 for a le­gal de­fense fund while fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tors were clos­ing in on him, records show.

Cor­reia, 26, charged with di­vert­ing more than $231,000 in funds raised for a soft­ware com­pany to fund his own lav­ish life­style, set up the le­gal de­fense fund ear­lier this year, ac­cord­ing to state cam­paign fi­nance records.

Among the donors to the fund were a mar­i­juana dis­pen­sary com­pany, lo­cal busi­ness peo­ple, lawyers and oth­ers, in­clud­ing Cor­reia’s cam­paign com­mit­tee, records show.

The un­sealed in­dict­ment against Cor­reia charged that he “sys­tem­i­cally looted” an ac­count set up for in­vest­ment funds of what was sup­posed by be an app de­vel­op­ment com­pany, SnoOwl.

Cor­reia con­vinced sev­eral in­vestors to con­trib­ute sev­eral hun­dred thou­sand dol­lars to the app com­pany, but never told them he was si­phon­ing off a large per­cent­age of the money for him­self, fed­eral au­thor­i­ties charge.

In­stead of us­ing the funds to pay for the app’s de­vel­op­ment, Cor­reia bought him­self a Mer­cedes, paid off per­sonal loans and credit cards, and spent the money on per­sonal travel with his girl­friend, clothes, men’s and women’s shoes, “adult en­ter­tain­ment” and dat­ing ser­vices, ac­cord­ing to the fed­eral in­dict­ment.

The fraud and tax eva­sion in­dict­ment yes­ter­day rocked the small city of Fall River, which made his­tory in 2015 by mak­ing Cor­reia one of the youngest may­ors in the coun­try. He was re­elected to a sec­ond term in Novem­ber 2017.

But months af­ter his re­elec­tion, with re­ports swirling of a fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Cor­reia set up the le­gal de­fense fund and be­gan so­lic­it­ing do­na­tions.

Cor­reia also trans­ferred $18,000 from his po­lit­i­cal cam­paign com­mit­tee to the le­gal de­fense fund, in­clud­ing a $10,000 dona­tion just last month.

Also last month, Cor­reia re­ceived $5,000 do­na­tions to the le­gal de­fense fund from Christo­pher Mor­gan of Thermo Fisher Sci­en­tific, Pratt St. Apart­ments LLC, and Sherle Wag­ner In­ter­na­tional, ac­cord­ing to cam­paign fi­nance records.

In April, Fall River at­tor­ney John Fer­rara gave $10,000 to the le­gal de­fense fund, while mar­i­juana com­pany J.H. Hold­ings Group do­nated $20,000 to the fund.

Un­like cam­paign com­mit­tees, le­gal de­fense funds are not sub­ject to con­tri­bu­tion lim­its. Cor­po­ra­tions can also give to the type of fund set up by Cor­reia.

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