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Fall River City Council Calls For Indicted Mayor's Resignation, But Falls Short Of Removing Him From Office01:58
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Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia, in a January 2016 file photo (Stephan Savoia/AP)
Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia, in a January 2016 file photo (Stephan Savoia/AP)

Fall River's city council is calling on beleaguered Mayor Jasiel Correia to resign, but in a vote Tuesday, stopped short of officially stripping him of his duties.

Correia, 26, is facing federal fraud charges, accused of swindling investors in a company he started prior to becoming mayor. He has pleaded not guilty and says he has no plans to resign.

Some councilors wanted to temporarily remove the mayor from office, but under the threat of litigation by Correia, they fell short of the required supermajority vote to do so.

Council Vice President Pam Laliberte-Lebeau said failing to take action because of legal threats could set a bad precedent.

“We’re not going to vote on anything, if an attorney sends us a letter the day before the vote, or the day of the vote, hours before the vote, threatening an injunction or threatening to sue the city," she said.

The council instead cast a vote of no confidence in Correia, and another vote calling for him to resign.

City Councilor Shawn Cadime said Correia can’t possibly serve the city while he focuses on his defense against a 13-count federal indictment.

“We’re not looking to prove his guilt or innocence," Cadmine said. "That’s for him to make a determination with his attorneys, go through the process, but he should not be doing that while in the position of mayor."

Tuesday’s council meeting was interrupted multiple times by the laughs and comments of people in attendance as the councilors squabbled over points of parliamentary order.

Only one councilor was against the no confidence vote. Steven Camara said any decision about Correia should be in the hands of the voters. He said he wants to wait to see the results of a recall effort against Correia.

“On November 19, the recallers will come back with their full number of signatures, and should they proceed with enough signatures, then there will be a recall election," Camara said. "That’s the way the process should work."

Correia himself became mayor in 2015, the year after a recall effort that removed then-Mayor Will Flanagan from office.

Federal prosecutors say Correia defrauded investors in his startup, an app called SnoOwl he founded in 2012. Charges against him say he allegedly used more than $230,000 in investor money to fund his "lavish lifestyle" and political career.

This segment aired on November 7, 2018.

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Simón Ríos is an award-winning bilingual reporter in WBUR's newsroom.

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