Embattled Fall River mayor ousted by city council pending outcome of trial

FALL RIVER, Mass. (WHDH/AP) — A Massachusetts mayor charged with extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from marijuana companies has been temporarily ousted from office.

The Fall River City Council voted 8-to-1 Tuesday night in favor of appointing Council President Cliff Ponte to temporarily replace Jasiel Correia as acting mayor.

“Once his personal issues are addressed and they’re no longer an issue anymore then the mayor may be able to resume his duties,” Ponte said.

Ponte had asked the 27-year-old to step down on Monday.

In response to Ponte’s proposal, Correia recommended that the council review all official mayoral actions.

Correia, who became the old mill city’s youngest mayor when he was elected in 2015 at age 23, showed up for work Monday three days after pleading not guilty to federal charges including bribery, extortion and wire fraud.

It was the second time Correia had been federally charged.

Prior to the vote, he denied the new charges alongside his supporters outside of city hall.

“People get accused of things that they don’t do and it takes a long time to prove that you’re innocent but I will be proven innocent,” Correia said.

He also argued that the vote to remove him from office is illegal.

“I don’t believe they have the power to do that,” he said. “I do my job each and every day. I’m not going to sit at home and get a paycheck to not do my job.”

Correia is still running for re-election.

(Copyright (c) 2020 Sunbeam Television. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)