FALL RIVER, MASS. (WHDH) - The embattled mayor of Fall River made it clear on Wednesday that he has no plans to step down, one day after the City Council voted 8-to-1 in favor of temporarily ousting him from office.
Council President Cliff Ponte was selected to replace 27-year-old Jasiel Correia, who pleaded not guilty last week to federal charges including bribery, extortion, and wire fraud.
“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 asked Correia to step down on Monday when he showed up for work three days after he was arraigned on charges in connection with allegedly extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from marijuana companies.
Prior to Tuesday’s vote, Correia denied the new charges alongside his supporters outside of city hall.
Correia, who became the old mill city’s youngest mayor when he was elected in 2015 at age 23, now has 48 hours to vacate his office.
Despite Ponte’s appointment, Correia told reporters on Wednesday that he has no intention of stepping down as mayor.
“I have done absolutely nothing wrong,” Correia told 7’s Steve Cooper. “I’m in the middle of an election and the U.S. Attorney brings these charges 11 days before a preliminary election. It begs too many questions.”
Correia was first arrested and indicted in 2018 on federal fraud and tax evasion charges. He has denied the allegations.
“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.”
Just like any other day, Correia says he plans to leave city hall as mayor come 5 p.m. on Friday.
He is still running for re-election.
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