Fall River Mayor Jasiel F. Correia II was arrested Friday on new charges that he allegedly extorted four prospective marijuana vendors in the city, accepting bribes of cash — and at one point, several pounds of pot — in exchange for local agreements some companies need to get a state license.
The indictment outlined the bribes offered to each of the vendors, which are not named. In all four cases, Correia allegedly accepted bribes from the companies in exchange for granting them non-opposition letters, which are required for dispensaries who want to serve medical patients to move forward in the process.
Prosecutors said Correia regularly claimed, falsely, that he planned to approve only five or six marijuana dispensaries in the city, in an effort to “inflate the value of the non-opposition letter/bribe,” according to the indictment.
Here’s how Correia allegedly extorted the companies, federal prosecutors said.
Marijuana vendor #1
• In the summer of 2016, Correia told the company — through an middleman — that he wanted $250,000 in exchange for writing a non-opposition letter.
• The vendor also agreed to give the middleman 2 percent of sales once the company was operating.
• The company paid the first $100,000 to the middleman before receiving the non-opposition letter. Correia took $70,000 of that payment, and the middleman kept $30,000, prosecutors said.
• The company said it would pay the other $150,000 once the business was “cash-flow positive.” Correia was slated to receive the entire final payment.
Marijuana vendor #2
• A middleman told the company, on the direction of Correia and an unnamed mayoral aide that the non-opposition letter would cost them $250,000. The company negotiated that price down to $150,000.
• Correia wrote the company a non-opposition letter in July 2018, and the company made its first payment of $25,000 in cash.
• After the first payment, Correia decided that a middleman would “sell marijuana to generate cash to pay Correia for the non-opposition letter.”
• That summer, the company made additional payments and also gave the middleman 12 to 15 pounds of marijuana.
• On Oct. 13, 2018, two days after Correia was arrested by federal officials for wire and tax fraud, a mayoral aide told the middleman to text a company official because Correia was frustrated he had yet to receive the full payment. The text read “Just don’t screw the kid he did what he had to do for you.”
• In March, the company gave the middleman another $10,000.
Marijuana vendor #3
• In July 2018, at a meeting about obtaining a non-opposition letter, a middleman told the company that it was “going to have to start helping [Correia] out because he is going to help you,” prosecutors said. The company agreed to give a $25,000 bribe in exchange for the letter.
• At a meeting at a cigar shop a short time later, the company agreed to make two $12,500 payments to Correia’s campaign “to be concealed as small donations by [the vendor’s] friends and family.”
• The middleman later asked the company for another $25,000, saying that the letters were going for at least $100,000.
• The vendor agreed to forgive a $61,000 mortgage that the middleman owed to the vendor’s brother.
• The vendor gave Correia another $5,000 to $6,000 in cash.
• In August 2018, the middleman gave the vendor two non-opposition letters for each of its facilities.
• In May, the vendor’s wife was fined $5,000 for illegal donations to Correia.
Marijuana vendor #4
• In June 2018, Correia told the vendor there he would issue no additional non-opposition letters.
• Correia and his former chief of staff, Genoveva Andrade, showed up at the vendor’s business to tell him he would give him a non-opposition letter for $250,000. The vendor asked why the number was so high, and Correia cited his legal fees, and that this letter would be the sixth and final non-opposition letter he issues. The vendor negotiated the payment down to $125,000, prosecutors said.
• Correia later told the vendor that if he gave him an additional $25,000, he would reduce the annual payment in his host community agreement from $50,000 to $25,000. The vendor agreed.
• In July 2018, Correia went to the vendor’s business, and the vendor gave Correia $75,000 in cash. Correia then gave the vendor the non-opposition letter.