Legal defense fund was established as FBI closed in
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.