A Great Day for U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling [OPINION]
Andrew Lelling is the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts and he had a great day on Tuesday, March 12. Two cases he is working had blockbuster developments.
The respect of the public and the media is an important component for law enforcement officers to accomplish their jobs. In his short time as the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, Lelling has presented himself as a serious prosecutor with a knack for communicating with the public he is charged with protecting.
On the same day he announced the charges against 50 individuals involved in college entry fraud, another defendant he is prosecuting in a separate case was re-elected to office. Both cases demonstrate that Lelling and his team are willing to take on the rich and powerful and do it in the public eye.
The case of Mayor Jasiel Correia II is fascinating. He is charged with raising hundreds of thousands of dollars from individuals investing in his app company SnoOwl, and then spending the money on his own lavish lifestyle and political aspirations. He became the youngest person ever elected mayor of Fall River and was a rising star in the Democratic Party of Massachusetts.
The initial investigation of his financial affairs started under the Obama Justice Department. All the while, the young mayor was hosting visits and posing for pictures with powerful people like Senator Elizabeth Warren. Long after the investigation was well known, the now-indicted mayor of Fall River hosted Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III for the Democratic Party's national rebuttal of President Donald J. Trump's State of the Union Address. One of the most powerful political families in America, the Kennedys, gathered with Mayor Correia at a public school for the national television debut of the Congressman.
Republican Governor Charlie Baker's campaign solicited and received the endorsement of Mayor Correia for the 2018 re-election efforts of the man the media labeled "America's most popular governor."
While Mayor Correia was on display with some of the most important political leaders in Massachusetts, the investigators in Lelling's office worked to build a case. They could have ignored the facts and buried the case in the transition. Instead, they ignored all of the political power around the rising political star and indicted him for allegedly ripping off his investors.
Same with the Hollywood stars, wealthy business people and the prestigious colleges involved in the fraud case he announced on Tuesday. The U.S. Attorney could have made a pile of powerful friends if he didn't pursue this embarrassing network of wealthy cheats. Instead, he is going after them for all of the young people who didn't get into the college they deserved, because their spot was allegedly stolen from them by fraud.
On Tuesday, the people of Fall River overwhelmingly kicked the indicted Mayor Correia out of office. Due to a large field of candidates and a strange provision in the recall law, Mayor Correia was returned to power that night by a small group of voters.
But the people of Fall River did tell him to leave office, and they did that because they believe in U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling.
Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.