Fall River Mayor Denies He’s Under Federal Investigation
Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia denies he is under investigation by the FBI and Department of Housing and Urban Development, and said he thinks he's just being targeted by one long-time official as a result of the mayor proposing budget cuts to his organization.
Correia called into WBSM's "Barry Richard Show" Thursday to combat a report in The Herald News that said the Fall River Office of Economic Development is alleging that Correia is under investigation by the federal agencies in relation to Correia's online business SnoOwl, and on federal grants used for the city's re-branding campaign.
Correia said he is "completely transparent," and said he has not been served any subpoenas or indictments, nor does he expect any.
"I'm going to say today, emphatically, without any question, without a shadow of a doubt, my administration, my company and myself have not done anything wrong, anything illegal," Correia said.
The FROED Board of Directors have hired a legal firm after Mayor Correia tried to break a management contract between the Board and the Redevelopment Authority as a means to redirect Community Development Block Grant funding to create his own economic development department. The City Council rejected the plan, which prompted Correia to hold a closed-doors meeting, offering what he called a "compromise" with FROED.
Correia alleges that FROED Executive Vice President Kenneth Fiola is the one behind the allegations. The mayor believes Fiola is attempting to slow down the process of FROED losing some of its funding, which Correia says is in part because the organization, which rents office space in City Hall, has failed to pay the City of Fall River $113,000 in back rent that hasn't been paid since well before Correia took office.
"The reason they are suddenly making this ridiculous allegation is that we're approaching our new fiscal year, and as part of the negotiations of their new funding cycle, I have proposed to cut a significant portion of their funding, and to divert some of those funds," Correia said. "I'm not looking to completely de-fund their organization, but to divert some of it."
Correia said Fiola and FROED is just "throwing something out there to see if it sticks, in order to get funding back."
"They have no actual facts, and if there were an actual investigation, I can't imagine the FBI would say, 'oh no, absolutely, go tell the world the mayor is under investigation,'" Correia said. "This is a last-ditch effort by Ken Fiola to protect his funding, with his $202,000 salary that I've seen very little results for in recent history. Some of these projects he takes credit for just land in his lap."
Correia said he's standing up to the charges because he doesn't want every organization that loses funding or undergoes change to think they can just launch what he says are false allegations just to scare him into going along with what they want.
"Any time there's that kind of change, there are certainly some rumblings and some ruckus," he said. "When people are in danger of losing their big, comfy jobs at $202,000 per year, I can understand why there would be some ludicrous allegations made."
Correia also said he doesn't think it's a coincidence that this report of an investigation came about two days after Fall River opened up the period for citizens to take out papers to run for mayor.
"It's a Hail Mary to stop some of those things I've been work on from happening," Correia said, noting it's possible Fiola is just trying to get other candidates to come out and run against Correia. "But I won't be bullied."
For more of Correia's statements about Fiola and the accusations, check out the full video below: