Former mayor of Fall River, Massachusetts, Jasiel Correia, was sentenced to six years in prison by a federal judge for extorting local marijuana vendors Tuesday, September 21. In comparison to his meteoric political rise in an economically challenged city, some are calling this a “fall from grace.” Boston-based Judge Douglas Woodlock ordered six years of prison and three years of supervised release for the disgraced politician in a Tuesday afternoon hearing, Christina Sterling, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Massachusetts, confirmed to Forbes.
Correia was first indicted on wire fraud, four counts of filing false tax returns, four counts of extortion conspiracy, and four counts of extortion. He was convicted with other charges for taking bribes from prospective Fall River cannabis businesses and defrauding investors in an app called “SnoOwl” founded before he took office. Acting U.S. State Attorney, Nathaniel R. Mendell said, “Jasiel Correia made many promises in business and politics, but today’s verdict speaks the truth: Correia defrauded people who trusted him, he lied on his taxes, and he extorted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes as mayor of Fall River.”
According to the Associated Press, Judge Woodlock overturned several tax and wire fraud convictions tied to the SnoOwl allegations after deciding prosecutors didn’t prove those charges but left the extortion convictions in place. Federal prosecutors wanted Woodlock to sentence Correia to 11 years, noting the “crudeness of Correia’s corruption” and accusing him of remaining in denial, but lawyers for Correia – who pleaded not guilty – asked for three years, arguing their client “flew early, high, and fast” but “has great potential to learn from this chapter of his life.” Correia maintained his innocence, even after his conviction, and has since said he will file for an appeal. It’s moments like these that show crime doesn’t pay, even if you’re the mayor.