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Fall River City Council May Vote On Gov't Restructuring Plan To Weaken Role Of Mayor

Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia speaks beside his attorney Kevin Reddington outside the federal courthouse in Boston after his appearance on bribery, extortion and fraud charges. Correia pleaded not guilty. (Philip Marcelo/AP)
Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia speaks beside his attorney Kevin Reddington outside the federal courthouse in Boston after his appearance on bribery, extortion and fraud charges. Correia pleaded not guilty. (Philip Marcelo/AP)

The Fall River City Council will likely this week weigh overhauling the city's government structure.

The proposal, which would weaken mayoral power, comes as the city's embattled mayor now faces a second series of federal charges.

Jasiel Correia was arrested and pleaded not guilty Friday to federal extortion and bribery charges. He's most recently accused of extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from four marijuana businesses trying to operate in the city.

On Tuesday, the Fall River Task Force is expected to present an amendment to the city's charter that would allow the Council to replace the mayor with a hired city manager.

Under the change, the mayor would lead the city council and school committee — but would lose some of the current role's authority.

Councilor Steven Camara is leading the restructuring effort, and said the amendment would give councilors the ability to replace the city's leader in the event of future scandals.

"If for instance there were a city manager who were facing these kinds of situations [like Correia], the council could just fire that individual, then put in place an acting city manager," Camara told the Public's Radio in Rhode Island.

If approved by the city council, the change would need Correia's signature. Then, Massachusetts state legislators, and finally, Fall River voters, would need to give it the OK. The earliest that could happen is 2020.

Last fall, Lelling's office charged Correia with defrauding investors in a company he founded in college — before he became the city's youngest mayor at age 23.

The mayor said Friday he is innocent of the latest charges and will not be stepping down from his post.

Correia survived a recall election in March and is currently up for reelection. He and his two challengers face a preliminary election next week. The two people with the most votes make it onto the November ballot.

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