From boy wonder mayor to defendant

Jasiel Correia was in full performance mode earlier this year when he was interviewed by CommonWealth contributor Ted Seifer for this profile in the magazine’s spring issue.

The mayor of Fall River, elected at age 23 with a vow to revitalize the struggling former mill city, was showcasing his vigor and commitment to being a hands-on leader. After a March storm dumped more snow on the city, Correia climbed into the cab of a Ford truck with a plow on the front of it and started clearing city streets himself along with municipal public works crews.

“The only thing I’m always worried about is that I’m gonna, God forbid, hit somebody’s car. That would just be the worst,” he said. “You know, ‘Mayor hits somebody’s vehicle’—that’s not a good story.”

No, that would not be a good story. But neither would it be “the worst.”

That may have come yesterday, with Correia hauled into federal court in leg shackles and handcuffs after he was arrested at 6:30 in the morning on a 13-count indictment of fraud and tax charges related to a start-up company he founded.

Correia vaulted into office in 2015, a year after Fall River voters recalled another youthful mayor, Will Flanagan. Correia defeated Sam Sutter, the former Bristol district attorney, who won the recall race but only lasted a year in office. As early as their 2015 face-off, questions were raised about Correia’s company, SnoOwl, with Sutter questioning in one debate what the company’s investors were getting.

The indictment unsealed yesterday says they received nothing — while alleging that Correia spent nearly two-thirds of the $360,000 that investors ponied up to fund “a lavish lifestyle” that included purchases of a Mercedes-Benz and jewelry for himself and a former girlfriend.

As CommonWealth’s earlier profile lays out, Correia has been in a nasty standoff with Ken Fiola, the longtime director of the nonprofit Fall River Office for Economic Development, which operates independently of city government. The story says Correia suspected that Fiola was responsible for putting the feds on his trail and then leaking word of an investigation to the press.

Fiola said Correia told him in March 2017 that the FBI was investigating him. Correia, however, said it was ludicrous to think he would tell someone “I really don’t have any relationship with. I didn’t tell my friends, my confidants, but I tell Ken Fiola?”

For all the talk about the rough-and-tumble of big city politics, the backstabbing, intrigue, and assorted power plays can often be much more brutal in small cities like Fall River, where everyone knows everyone.

Fall River has been showing some positive signs of late. The city’s bond rating is up, and 2,000 jobs arrived with the opening of a new Amazon distribution center there. Positive developments have a way of generating further good things, and the Spindle City can surely use all the good news it can get.

Yesterday’s developments certainly don’t help.

–MICHAEL JONAS

 

BEACON HILL

A Globe editorial says Gov. Charlie Baker needs to stop blaming the Patrick administration for the mess at the State Police and take responsibility for what’s gone on over his nearly four years in office.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Fall River mayor Jasiel Correia was arrested on 13 federal fraud and tax charges in connection with a business he founded. (CommonWealth) A defiant Correia pled not guilty at his arraignment in federal court in Boston and said he has no plans to resign. (CommonWealth)

Howie Carr has a field day with Gov. Charlie Baker’s recent acceptance of an reelection endorsement from Correia, a development that was quickly scrubbed from Baker’s campaign website following yesterday’s news. (Boston Herald) A random sampling of Fall River citizens, including former mayor Sam Sutter and former city councilor Linda Pereira, the candidates beaten by Correia in the last two elections, said the mayor “is an embarrassment” and should consider stepping aside. Sutter also said, “I would love to be mayor again” when asked if he would run. (Herald News)

Federal authorities say the failure to relocate a pressure sensor during work on gas pipelines was responsible for overpressurization in lines that caused last month’s explosions in the Merrimack Valley. (Boston Globe)

The bridge spanning the Back River on Route 3A at the Weymouth-Hingham line will be closed for three nights next week as divers from the Army Corps of Engineers search for undetonated ordnance that may have been left after the government shut down the former Hingham Naval Ammunition Depot 50 years ago. (Patriot Ledger)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

The Trump administration releases its final rule on what public aid legal immigrants can receive without penalty. (Governing) Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone says white supremacy fuels the anti-immigrant “public charge” proposal being considered in Washington. (CommonWealth)

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has ordered the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to investigate a dozen ethics complaints filed against Justice Brett Kavanaugh over issues that arose during the hearing into sexual assault allegations against him. (Forbes)

ELECTIONS

Gov. Charlie Baker and challenger Jay Gonzalez talk environmental issues in back-to-back appearances at a forum at the Museum of Science moderated by CommonWealth editor Bruce Mohl, with differences emerging on funding for the MBTA and gas pipeline expansion. (Boston Globe)

Facebook has removed hundreds of pages and accounts  created in the United States that are spreading lies and misinformation in advance of the November election, mimicking the approach by Russia in 2016. (Wall Street Journal)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

President Trump, who has often touted the rise of stock prices on Wall Street as evidence of his success, slammed the Federal Reserve for its policies that he claims are triggering the global sell-off and sending the markets plummeting. It is virtually unheard of for a president to weigh in on the central bank’s actions, which are supposed to be independent. (New York Times)

The Marriott hotels in Boston that union housekeepers and other staff went on strike against this week have been enjoying healthy profits. (Boston Globe)

The imminent Sears bankruptcy would leave gaping holes in malls around the country as many of the stores close but experts say struggling shopping centers would welcome the chance to fill the space with more profitable entertainment businesses that are the key to success these days. (Wall Street Journal)

ARTS

Dan Monroe, the executive director of the Peabody Essex Museum, is retiring. (Salem News

Bruce and Patricia Herring donate $5 million to the youth arts organization Raw Art Works. (Daily Item)

RELIGION

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Washington, DC, Cardinal Donald Wuerl over the prominent American prelate’s handling of sex abuse cases. (Washington Post)

Cardinal Sean O’Malley is expanding the investigation of sexual misconduct from one to all three Boston area seminaries that train priests. (Boston Herald)

EDUCATION

A British company wants to spend $1 billion on property in Boston that would be turned into private dorms for area college students, a move that could relieve some of the pressure students now put on the region’s tight housing supply. (Boston Globe)

The lawsuit alleging racial balancing at Harvard reveals another admissions office preference — for the children of alumni. (WBUR)

Colin Kaepernick, the pro quarterback known for his decision to kneel during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality, is honored at Harvard. (WBUR)

TRANSPORTATION

JetBlue will install noise-reducing devices on its fleet after a number of communities, including Milton and Hull, have complained about the disruptions from planes taking off and landing on routes over residents’ homes. (Patriot Ledger)

Tech experts say the transportation industry, particularly the reliance on the automobile, is ripe for disruption. (MassLive)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The Supreme Judicial Court, citing wrongdoing by chemist Sonja Farak and two assistant attorneys general, orders thousands more drug cases to be dismissed. (State House News)

The Boston Globe, in a lawsuit filed with the Supreme Judicial Court, is asking that public access be granted to information on private hearings by clerk magistrates that determine whether charges will be filed in some cases. (Boston Globe)

A prison superintendent is defying a court order to set up a medical release plan for convicted rapist Benjamin LaGuer, who has terminal liver cancer and is eligible for release under the state’s new compassionate release statute. (Boston Herald)

MEDIA

The Boston Globe’s daily circulation averaged 229,780 over the last year, 115,060 print and 114,720 digital. Sunday circulation averaged 312,341 — 201,358 print and 110,983 digital. (CommonWealth)