Correia Tries to Cast Doubt on Charges Before Council Meeting
FALL RIVER — Facing federal charges, eviction, and a possible vote Tuesday night to remove him from office, Fall River's 26-year-old mayor took his defense to the public.
Mayor Jasiel Correia spent over half an hour Tuesday morning in an apparent attempt to cast doubt on a portion of the federal investigation into allegations that he squandered investors' funds meant for his private small business, SnoOwl.
Following Correia's arrest last week, U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling, answering a question posed by a reporter, remarked that SnoOwl never made it out of the development stage.
"It was just a prototype," Lelling said of SnoOwl last week. "My understanding is that SnoOwl did not have revenue, but it did reach the prototype stage."
During his statement Tuesday, Correia presented data, including screenshots of the app and analytics of the public usage, showing his app did hit the market and worked.
"The following app has been approved and the app status has changed to 'Ready for Sale.' App name: SnoOwl. App version: 1.0.3," Correia recited, reading an email from Apple dated May 19, 2015, as the app became available on the company's App Store.
"There's the logo," Correia said, pointing to the presentation on the screen. "You can see the evolution from 2013, the earliest product, to the final product on the App Store in 2015, delivering on my promise to my investors that we would get an app on the App Store that had value and could be sold."
"The app made it to the App Store and was a real consumer product."
Correia inferred that SnoOwl's demise and disappearance from the marketplace was a direct result of the federal investigation, which began in early 2017.
"Over time, this investigation, that did not start, as the U.S. Attorney stated, with SnoOwl, but rather my campaign, in fact, hurt the value of this product, in fact, led to the abandonment, not by me, of this product, but of the abandonment of the App Store."
After laying out SnoOwl's journey from conception to market, Correia doubled down on the statement he gave to the press following his arraignment in U.S. District Court in Boston on Thursday.
"I will continue to every day show you how hard working your mayor, the mayor of the City of Fall River, is. And I will not resign," said Correia to roarous applause from supporters in attendance.
The Fall River City Council has called a special meeting Tuesday night to consider taking a vote to remove Correia from his position as mayor. The possible vote would be taken under a City Charter rule that allows the council to remove the mayor by a two-thirds majority vote if the holder of the office is found to be physically or mentally unable to fulfill the duties of the position.
With that in mind, Correia called on the public to decide whether or not he should remain mayor.
"Not the City Council, not other elected officials, state and federal, not bullies, not the press, not social media posts, but the people of the City of Fall River either reaffirm my position as mayor, or choose to recall me as mayor," Correia implored.
"Those are the two choices that legitimately, legally, the City of Fall River faces."
Correia faces nine counts of wire fraud and four counts of tax fraud, with prosecutors alleging that Correia bilked investors of over $200,000 and used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle that included a luxury car, exorbitant vacations, adult entertainment, and more.
Correia has pleaded not guilty to the charges.