Embattled Fall River mayor ousted by city council refuses to hand over keys

FALL RIVER, MASS. (WHDH) - In an act of defiance, the embattled mayor of Fall River refused to hand over the keys to his office after being ousted by the city council earlier this week.

Correia ignored the 5 p.m. deadline to step down and city counselors said they will take their case to court.

“The so-called order of the city council is of no legal merit whatsoever,” Correia’s attorney Kevin Reddington said. “Totally perverts the intent of that section of the city charter, dealing with incapacitation. Jasiel is far from incapacitated and he is going nowhere.”

Fall River City Council President Cliff Ponte responded to Correia’s act of defiance in a letter, writing in part, “Since you refused to comply with the council’s emergency vote, you have now forced the council to take appropriate action, up to and including seeking enforcement of the order in court.”

The council voted 8-to-1 Tuesday night in favor of appointing Ponte to temporarily replace 27-year-old Correia as acting mayor amid allegations that Correia extorted hundreds of thousands of dollars from marijuana companies.

Correia pleaded not guilty last week to federal charges, including bribery, extortion and wire fraud. It was the second time he had been federally charged.

He maintains his innocence, saying, “I have done absolutely nothing wrong.”

Correia also argued that the vote to remove him from office is illegal and politically motivated.

“This entire investigation, everything going on all of these charges are politically motivated,” he said. “They are intended very, very strategically before my primary election, to have me not win that primary election.”

Correia is still running for re-election.

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