Fall River Mayor Cannot Use Defense Fund to Fight Federal Charges
FALL RIVER — Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia will have to seek out another source of funding after the Office of Campaign and Political Finance has ruled that he cannot use money he began setting aside in February to fight the federal charges he faces.
Correia established a legal defense fund in February after learning he was under federal investigation. According to reports, Correia raised $76,650 for the defense fund, with $18,500 of that money being transferred from his political campaign fund.
According to the Herald News, one of Correia's attorneys was contacted by the OCPF the day of the mayor's arrest, saying Correia was improperly using money from his legal defense fund to fight the charges that had just been levied against him.
The notification was a reversal from a ruling on October 9.
OCPF Deputy General Counsel Sarah Hartry explains in an email to Correia's attorney the reason for the most recent ruling.
"At this point, it would appear to our office that this matter is primarily personal, and therefore the legal defense fund cannot be used to pay for expenses incurred in connection with that litigation."
Correia faces 13 federal charges of wire and tax fraud. Correia is accused of defrauding investors through his app company, SnoOwl, to live a lavish lifestyle while the app was left to fail.
While the OCPF is preventing Correia from using his defense fund to continue to fight the charges, the agency will allow the 26-year-old mayor to use the funds to resolve fees incurred prior to the charges being filed as the OCPF attorney says the mayor "had good faith belief that the charges being investigated at that time may have been related to his actions as a public figure."