FALL RIVER — Using the new Durfee High School, currently under construction on Elsbree Street as a backdrop, Fall River’s troubled mayor held a press conference Tuesday afternoon to officially announce that he will be taking a leave of absence to address his legal issues.

The Mayor spent most of the event touting his accomplishments as Mayor, stating that him stepping aside provides the City “an opportunity to build on the successes and accomplishments” of his administration “without any distraction.”

“I’m here today to officially announce my decision to forgo my campaign for re-election as the Mayor of Fall River and take a temporary absence from my responsibilities as the Mayor of the City. Those responsibilities will be handled by the City Council President,” said Mayor Correia.

“Today’s announcement provides the City of Fall River an opportunity to build on the successes and accomplishments of my administration without any distraction. This allows the voters, who will take to the polls, the chance to evaluate candidates on policy and platform, not headlines.”

Correia continued the rest of his speech by touting his accomplishments as Mayor and the successes of his administration.

The 26-year-old mayor has handed most mayoral duties over to City Council President Cliff Ponte, who will now serve as acting Mayor. Correia also says he’ll retain the title of Mayor and his $119,000 annual salary until his term ends in January. Ponte will serve as acting Mayor until the newly elected Mayor in the November final election is sworn in in January.

Mayor Correia is facing a litany of federal charges pending from two separate cases. His most recent arrest at the hands of the FBI was in September on a 13-count federal indictment charging him with extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from marijuana vendors looking to do business in the city.

In September of 2018, he was arrested by federal authorities for the first time for allegedly defrauding investors in the SnoOwl app he created out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“For every elected official, the goal is to leave the community in which they serve a little bit better than when they found it. I’m very proud to say that I have done just that for Fall River,” said Correia before he ended the press conference by refusing to take any questions from the media.

“Today is not goodbye. It’s far from it. Whether serving in an official capacity as an elected official, or not, I will continue to fight every day to improve the lives of every resident of the great City of Fall River.”

Correia had already been facing an uphill battle to re-election against School Committee member Paul Coogan. It’s not known who, if anyone, will enter the race to challenge Coogan.

The final election in Fall River is November 5.

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