In what can only be described as the downside to the burgeoning cannabis market, the mayor of Fall River, MA, has been arrested on a host of charges stemming from accusations that he took bribes from cannabis firms looking to set up business in his town.
Mayor Jasiel F. Correia II, on September 8, pled not guilty to the charges, which were brought by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts. He was released on a $250,000 bond. Correia is charged with accepting bribes totaling $600,000 in exchange for non-opposition letters from the city government. Non-opposition letters are required from the municipalities where cannabis businesses plan to operate as part of the state licensing process. Correia signed off on 14 such letters, according to published reports.
Three other city former and current city officials also were charged in connection with the case.
“In many ways, it’s a perfect storm of corruption: the combination of a highly competitive industry and a mayor who was solely responsible for approving all non-opposition letters in the city,” FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Office Joseph R. Bonavolonta said in a tweet.
This isn’t Correia’s first brush with the law. He was arrested by the FBI last year on charges he defrauded investors in his company, SnoOwl. Correia pled not guilty and is awaiting trial on those charges.