Fall River, Massachusetts, Mayor Jasiel F. Correia II, a Democrat, is considered a rising political star in the Massachusetts Democratic Party, but his ascent may have come to a sudden halt.
Correia on Thursday was arrested by federal agents on allegations that he stole almost a quarter of a million dollars from seven people who invested in his start-up company.
He allegedly spent the money on “adult entertainment, airfare, a dating service, designer clothes, hotels, jewelry, trips to casinos and a Mercedes-Benz,” the Washington Post reported.
Correia pled not guilty to 13 counts of wire and tax fraud, telling reporters, “Not my best Thursday.”
Correia also said he is not going to resign.
Correia, 26, is the founder of SnoOwl, a smartphone app that connects businesses with consumers. He was elected mayor of Fall River at the age of 23.
The indictment states:
Starting in approximately January 2013 and continuing until at least in or about May 17, 2017, Correia perpetrated a scheme to defraud the SnoOwl investors by making false representations and diverting a significant portion of the investors’ funds to himself, while neglecting the development of the company to focus on his political career. Of the approximately $363,690 Correia received from the seven individual SnoOwl investers, Correia used at least $231,447, approximately 64 percent of all money invested, to fund his own lavish lifestyle, burgeoning political career and the needs of his other business ventures.
In addition, Correia allegedly failed to report any income from SnoOwl on his 2013 and 2014 personal tax returns, according to the indictment.
“Today’s arrest is a shock to many in the city which has prided itself on a tradition of honest government, hard work, and public service,” Harold Shaw, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston office, said at a news conference. “Yet its mayor was far from honest, selling out his friends and associates for his own personal gain. His actions were underhanded, shameless, and greedy.”
Agents arrested Correia in Bridgewater around 6:30 a.m. Thursday and brought him to Boston. He appeared in federal court “smiling and wearing leg irons with his hands cuffed behind his back,” the Post reported.
‘‘I look forward to my day in court to share my side of the story and to clear my name,’’ Correia said in a written statement.
Correia attended Providence College in Rhode Island and in 2014 he was named entrepreneur of the year by the Fall River Area Chamber of Commerce.
Fall River is a working-class city in southeastern Massachusetts, about 55 miles from Boston.