Correia says he won't resign in face of federal charges
Embattled Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia vigorously defended himself against federal fraud charges Tuesday in a 35-minute news conference during which he said he won't resign but also refused to answer a single question from reporters.
"I am innocent of every single one of these allegations," the mayor told a crowd assembled at Fall River Government Center.
The mayor pleaded not guilty last week to a 13-count federal indictment accusing him of fraud and filing false tax returns related to his personal business.
Federal prosecutors claim Correia spent more than $230,000 of investors' money on his own "lavish" lifestyle -- including trips and a Mercedes-Benz -- from 2013 to 2015, before he was mayor. But, they say, he filed false tax returns last year when he was mayor and knew he was under investigation.
Correia made a multimedia presentation defending his business, an app called SnoOwl, saying it was legitimate, unlike the federal government's allegation, and that he didn’t fake his taxes.
"This app was real," he said, adding that 1.1 million companies were entered in the app's database and that they produced millions of posts.
But he never spoke about the money or how he allegedly spent it, instead making a proclamation.
"Not arrogantly, not selfishly, but humbly, I will continue to everyday show you how hard-working your mayor -- the mayor of the city of Fall River -- is," Correia said. "And I will not resign."
The mayor called the case politically motivated and that the charges against him have nothing to do with his job as mayor.
"The truth shall prevail," he said, wrapping up the news conference.
The City Council is expected to hold a special meeting later Tuesday to discuss Correia's tenure.
Seven of nine council members need to vote no confidence to oust the mayor.
If that happens, Council President Cliff Ponte would temporarily fill the spot until a special election.
"I'm expecting the meeting to be highly attended, from what I'm being told. And I'm looking forward to trying to work toward unity in this community and putting this behind us," Ponte told NBC 10 News.
The Bristol County Sheriff's Office said Correia was served an eviction notice Monday at his home on Bank Street.