Fall River mayor taking leave of absence, dropping out of race for re-election

FALL RIVER, MASS. (WHDH) - Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia announced Tuesday that he will not run for re-election and is taking a leave of absence from his mayoral duties as he fights multiple criminal charges — but will still collect his $119,000 salary while he’s out of office.

And Correia said he’d be back at City Hall at some point.

“I fully expect to lead this city on the rise once again in the future,” Correia said. “I will focus the remaining time and my attention on championing and supporting many of the impactful social programs that I have established during my administration.”

Correia says he will continue as mayor until January of 2020 but City Council President Cliff Ponte will take over the mayoral responsibilities. Ponte said he would give the mayor’s Chevy Tahoe to the police department and would concentrate on managing his own business while running the city.

“I’m not sitting here saying I want the mayor’s salary, I’m not going to pound my chest and say ‘Where’s the mayor’s salary, I want it,” Ponte said.

Correia was elected mayor in 2015 at the age of 23, making him the youngest person to ever hold that position in the city. He was re-elected in 2017.

In October 2018, Correia was arrested and charged with wire fraud and filing false tax returns after he allegedly took $231,000 from his own company and defrauded investors. He refused calls to resign and Fall River held a recall election in March 2019.

A majority of voters in that recall, 61 percent, voted to recall Correia; however, he also ran for election in that race and received 35 percent of the vote — good enough for the majority among five candidates, leading to his re-election.

In September, Correia was again arrested, this time by the FBI on charges of extorting cannabis vendors in the city. The City Council voted 8-1 to temporarily remove Correia from office amid these accusations but he fought their decision in court and a judge ruled last Thursday that Correia could stay in office.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Correia placed second in September’s primary election, putting him on the ballot for the November general election. He remains on the ballot despite not actively running.

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