Mayor’s Mystery Money from Marijuana? Maybe! [OPINION]
Back in February, Mayor Jasiel Correia III offered to pay his investors over $300,000 in a move to settle the federal criminal charges against him.
Life was much simpler for Mayor Correia back then. He had only been indicted once by the federal government. He had only been arrested in an early-morning FBI raid once. He was facing his first political election as a criminal defendant.
All those problems have now doubled, at least, for the young Mayor of Fall River.
Last February, defendant Correia suddenly announced he had over $300,000 in ready cash to pay the investors he was charged with ripping off. The offer was made and then withdrawn quickly.
It always seemed like a political stunt to me and I assumed there wasn't $300,000 in cash at the indicted mayor's fingertips for his alleged victims. Where would he have gotten that much cash as a local mayor and failed businessman charged with stealing money to subsidize his lifestyle?
According to the Fall River Herald News story in April:
"In February, three weeks before he faced a recall election, Correia asked the court to allow him to pay back his investors who, at the time, he identified as 'lenders' with $306,000 he claimed he placed in escrow.
A week before the recall election, Correia withdrew the request, claiming prosecutors would not change their position on contact with the investors.
That drew the ire of prosecutors who quickly filed an answer with the court, indicating they had offered to allow the $306,000 in a court-supervised escrow account until the case was settled before Correia withdrew his request.
Prosecutors called it a 'brazen attempt to blame the government” for the investors not getting their money back.'"
But maybe he did have the $300K after all.
According to the government, he extorted over $600,000 from wanna be legal marijuana entrepreneurs. His co-conspirator claimed he had hundreds of thousands of dollars in a safe from his scams and shakedowns.
Did he think U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling and the FBI wasn't going to notice that he suddenly had $300,000 to pay his first alleged victims? They had combed through his tax records and his personal finances to indict him the first time.
But life was simple back then for Jasiel.
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.