fb-pixel Skip to main content

Group seeking to oust Fall River mayor gets more than enough signatures to force recall election

Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia.
Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia. Dave Souza/The Herald News of Fall River via Associated Press

An effort to oust Fall River Mayor Jasiel F. Correia II reached a major milestone Wednesday as city officials certified the signatures of 4,533 registered voters who want a recall election — 2,023 more than the number of signatures needed to advance the measure.

Per the city charter, the Fall River City Council plans to consider the petition seeking the recall election at its meeting Tuesday, according to a letter from City Council President Cliff Ponte.

Correia, a Democrat elected in 2015, is under federal indictment for fraud and tax evasion allegations related to his tech startup SnoOwl. He has pleaded not guilty.

Advertisement



The council must notify Correia, 27, that enough signatures have been certified for a recall election and give him five days to resign. Correia didn’t immediately respond Thursday to a text message seeking comment, and his criminal defense lawyer Kevin Reddington declined to comment.

Since his arrest on Oct. 11, Correia has signaled he would not relinquish power while his criminal case is pending.

Joseph Pereira, a spokesman for Fall River Recall, the group that collected signatures for the recall petition, said the organization hasn’t heard from Correia.

“We’re certainly pretty happy with the number that we achieved. It was a lot of work from a small group of dedicated people,” he said Thursday.

The group and its supporters plan to attend the City Council meeting Tuesday to push the body to schedule a recall election swiftly if Correia doesn’t resign, Pereira said.

Group members worry about potential delays.

A city charter provision gives the council the authority to delay action on motions until its next meeting if just one councilor objects, Pereira said.

“Once a motion is on the floor, when the motion is called for a vote all it takes is one member of the City Council to say, ‘I object.’ That tables the issue until the next meeting,” he said.

Advertisement



Last month, the City Council overwhelmingly approved a no-confidence vote in Correia and requested his resignation. A third measure that would have removed him from office while his federal criminal case was pending failed by a vote of 5-4.

If the push to remove Correia from office proceeds, Fall River would hold its second mayoral recall election since 2014.

In December 2014, city voters recalled then-Mayor William A. Flanagan by a margin of 10,721 to 4,728 votes. During the same election, then-Bristol District Attorney Sam Sutter topped an eight-person contest to succeed Flanagan.

A year later, Correia, then a 23-year-old city councilor, defeated Sutter to become the youngest mayor in Fall River’s history. He is in the first year of his second two-year term.

A federal grand jury indicted him on charges that he defrauded investors who supported SnoOwl and then attempted to conceal the scheme by filing false tax returns.

He is accused of spending more than $231,000 that investors gave him for SnoOwl on expensive travel, casinos, adult entertainment, and a luxury car.

A memorandum filed in the case Tuesday said the government turned over about 18,256 pages of evidence to the defense.

The next court date is scheduled for Feb. 13 in federal court in Boston.

Since his arrest, Correia has insisted that the criminal case isn’t interfering with his ability to govern and has portrayed the allegations as a business dispute that unfolded before he became mayor.

Advertisement




Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.