MAYOR’S OUSTER EYED

Fall River coun­cil plans hear­ing af­ter Cor­reia in­dicted

Boston Herald - - NEWS - By JOR­DAN GRA­HAM and JONATHAN NG — jor­dan.gra­ham@boston­her­ald.com Kath­leen McKier­nan con­trib­uted to this re­port.

A group of Fall River city coun­cilors plans to push for in­dicted Mayor Jasiel F. Cor­reia II’s re­moval at a spe­cial hear­ing Tues­day — an ouster they can legally force if they can muster seven votes against him.

“There is an im­me­di­ate lack of trust be­cause of his busi­ness deal­ings. There is this cloud hang­ing over him whether the al­le­ga­tions prove to be true or not. The fo­cus will al­ways be on that. I don’t know how he can fo­cus on both his may­oral du­ties, run­ning this city and this fed­eral case,” said Pam Lal­ib­erte-Lebeau, a Fall River city coun­cilor. “This is a black mark on the city that we don’t need.”

Cor­reia is charged with nine counts of fraud and four counts of fil­ing false tax re­turns con­nected to a com­pany he founded. Fed­eral prose­cu­tors say Cor­reia used hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars in in­vestor money to fund a lav­ish life­style.

Cliff Ponte, pres­i­dent of the Fall River City Coun­cil, said yes­ter­day the nine­mem­ber body will meet Tues­day night to dis­cuss the fed­eral fraud charges against Cor­reia, as well as take up any mo­tions “re­gard­ing the lead­er­ship of our city.”

Un­der Fall River’s char­ter, the coun­cil can re­move a mayor who is “un­able to per­form the du­ties of the of­fice” with at least seven votes. It is un­clear whether those who seek to push Cor­reia out of of­fice will be able to get enough votes. Of the six coun­cilors who re­sponded to Her­ald in­quiries, three said they would vote to re­move him.

“It’s time for the city coun­cil to step up and lead. I am cer­tain he will not re­sign vol­un­tar­ily, but it would al­le­vi­ate the is­sues fac­ing Fall River,” said Coun­cilor Brad­ford Kilby, who said he would vote to re­move Cor­reia. “I’ve re­ceived nu­mer­ous emails and calls for him to step down. It’s very un­for­tu­nate, and I take no pride in this hap­pen­ing. It’s a sad sit­u­a­tion and gives the city two black eyes and a bro­ken nose.”

Ponte, who would be­come act­ing mayor if Cor­reia re­signs or is re­moved, did not say how he would vote.

Cor­reia did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment but said Thurs­day af­ter his ar­raign­ment he would not re­sign and main­tained his in­no­cence.

Mean­while, a grow­ing num­ber of top state elected of­fi­cials said Cor­reia should ei­ther re­sign or step aside while the in­ves­ti­ga­tion runs its course.

“Mayor Cor­reia should step down and al­low the City of Fall River to move past this dif­fi­cult time,” U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III said in a state­ment. Kennedy, who rep­re­sents Fall River, chose the city as the venue for his State of the Union re­but­tal ear­lier this year.

Gov. Char­lie Baker and U.S. Sen. Ed­ward Markey both said Cor­reia should at least step aside while the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is on­go­ing.

“I think the best thing to do would be for the mayor to step aside, deal with this is­sue, wher­ever it goes, and give the city a chance to op­er­ate out from un­der that,” Baker said. “I cer­tainly think it would be in the best in­ter­est of the city for him to step aside as this is­sue plays it­self out.”

Demo­cratic gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date Jay Gon­za­lez also called for Cor­reia to re­sign.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI, ABOVE, AND STU­ART CAHILL, LEFT; HER­ALD FILE PHOTO BELOW

‘STEP ASIDE’: Gov. Char­lie Baker, left, says in­dicted Fall River Mayor Jasiel F. Cor­reia II, above, should step aside. Below, the USS Mass­a­chu­setts in Fall River’s Bat­tle­ship Cove.

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