City Council will hold special meeting Tuesday about Jasiel Correia II
FALL RIVER — Gov. Charlie Baker is calling on Mayor Jasiel Correia II to step aside after he was charged with using investments in a company he formed as his "own personal ATM" to enjoy casinos, adult entertainment, buy a Mercedes, and pay student loan debt.
A spokesman for the Republican governor said Friday that Baker is urging Correia to "act in the best interests of the people of Fall River and step aside until the case is resolved."
Baker stopped short of calling for Correia to resign.
Baker's re-election campaign removed Correia's endorsement from its website.
Correia was arrested Thursday and charged with wire fraud and filing false tax returns. He pleaded not guilty in federal court, and said he believes he will be vindicated and will "absolutely not" resign.
On Friday, Correia, 26, a second term mayor, was back at work on the sixth-floor of Government Center.
But it was a very different atmosphere with the door locked to the mayor’s office and an armed police detail officer guarding outside.
The doors to several offices within the mayor’s office, including Correia’s, were shut.
The city issued SUV that Correia often drives was in the mayor’s parking spot before 9 a.m.
The mayor’s secretary indicated to a reporter who requested to see the mayor he wasn’t available and was in “conference.”
She said that the mayor’s Chief of Staff Gen Andrade was also in “conference.”
A text message to Correia requesting an interview did elicit a response.
“I will a dress (sic) the media at the appropriate time with the appropriate information. Thank you.”
Correia had scheduled a press conference to be held at Government Center after returning from an arraignment at the John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse in Boston on Thursday, but the event was canceled.
Andrade did indicate in a text message that there would not be a press conference today.
Correia did, however, address a throng of media who attended the arraignment with his attorneys, Kevin Reddington and Mark Berthiaume, at his side.
Having changed from the black polo shirt and pants that he was wearing after being arrested earlier Thursday morning in Bridgewater, Correia was adamant that he would not step down and that the charges against him were “bogus,” and vowed not to step down from office.
He pleaded not guilty to nine counts of wire fraud for allegedly defrauding investors and four counts of filing false tax returns.
Meanwhile, the Fall River City Council has scheduled a meeting for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Government Center.
Discussion will be centered around the removal of Correia from office using a provision in the Home Rule Charter.
However, one of the crafters of the new charter says a provision possibly being eyed by City Councilors to remove Correia wasn’t meant to allow the council from permanently removing a sitting mayor.
City Councilor Shawn Cadime, in a letter to City Council President Cliff Ponte, asked for the special meeting due to Correia’s arrest and cited the charter’s Article 3, Section 3-8 that deals with the temporary absence of a mayor. He indicated he wanted the council to vote in a public forum on whether Correia was able to perform his duties.
Cadime contends that if the council votes in a 7 member majority that the council president would immediately take over as acting mayor.
But former City Council and charter review chairman Michael Miozza said the provision Cadime is referencing was meant to deal with an instance whereby a mayor has a temporary physical or mental health issue.
“That’s the interpretation. The way to remove a mayor is through the recall process,” Miozza said.