Once considered a “rising Democrat star,” Jasiel F. Correia II, the Democrat mayor of Fall River, Massachusetts, was just arrested for defrauding investors out of $231,000 that he spent on strip clubs, limos, expensive clothing, and high living.
Correia was looked on as a rising young star in the state Democrat Party after wowing the party by winning a seat on the Fall River City Council when he was still in college. By the time he was 23, Correia became the city’s youngest-ever mayor. But now, at 26, he is accused of a massive case of fraud and theft.
On Thursday, Correia was arrested on charges that he stole a quarter of a million dollars from seven people he had convinced to invest in his start-up company. But, instead of spending the investor’s cash on the business, Correia wasted the money on “adult entertainment, airfare, a dating service, designer clothes, hotels, jewelry, trips to casinos and a Mercedes-Benz,” according to The Washington Post.
The paper is now reporting that Correia has “pleaded not guilty to 13 counts of wire and tax fraud.”
Correia had previously touted his experience as the founder of a start-up named SnoOwl, a smartphone app that connected businesses with consumers. It was evidence that, despite his age, he had the leadership skills necessary to run the city. Now 26, Correia is accused of using the company as his “personal ATM” and defrauding investors who were unwittingly funding his lavish lifestyle and nascent political career. In an indictment that was unsealed Thursday, prosecutors allege that Correia stole more than $231,000, which he also allegedly used to pay off his student loans, fund his political campaigns and make charitable donations in his name.
The sum, as the Boston Globe reported, amounts to about six times the median household income in Fall River.
Prosecutors allege that Correia routinely lied to potential investors, telling them that he had previously sold another smartphone app for a large profit. Within a month of receiving his first investor’s $50,000 check in January 2013, the indictment says, Correia bought a black 2011 Mercedes C300 sport sedan. For the next two years, prosecutors allege, he would go on to use investors’ money to pay off his credit cards, stay at luxury hotels and spend tens of thousands of dollars on his then-girlfriend.
In 2015, as the company foundered, Correia announced that he would run for mayor. After winning the race, he became “increasingly unresponsive” to investors and software developers, the indictment says. He also allegedly filed fraudulent tax returns to conceal the scheme from the IRS.
“To date, no SnoOwl investor has received any return or interest on his investment, and the business of SnoOwl is essentially worthless,” prosecutors concluded.
Naturally, Correia insists that he is innocent and that the coming trial will prove that.
“If you look at my track record as mayor, all you’ll see is positive results,” Correia said as he made his statement. “I was elected and reelected with 65 percent of the vote in Fall River. And if you look at those bogus charges, or whatever they’re called, there’s not a single thing . . . that the U.S. attorney’s office said in their 19-page indictment that I did wrong as mayor of the city of Fall River. I love the city of Fall River.”
Looks like Correia is no longer a rising star.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.
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