FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — An embattled Massachusetts mayor charged with defrauding investors in a company he formed before his election said Tuesday he will not resign and defiantly disputed federal prosecutors’ case against him.
At a City Hall news conference that was so packed with cheering supporters that it felt at times like a political rally, Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia touted his accomplishments as mayor and blamed political foes for his legal woes.
“This is America, and I am presumed innocent until proven otherwise,” the Democrat said, standing in front of an American flag. “I will not allow political enemies to remove me from office for their own selfish agendas.”
He did not answer reporters’ questions.
Correia was elected as a city councilor in 2013 and after one term was elected mayor in 2015, at age 23 the youngest mayor in the history of this old mill city of about 85,000 people and the first of Cape Verdean descent. The U.S. Conference of Mayors said at the time that he was the youngest mayor to run a city as large as Fall River. He won re-election handily in November.
Correia, now 26, pleaded not guilty last week to a 13-count indictment charging him with defrauding investors in an app he created and with filing false tax returns.
He collected more than $360,000 from investors to develop an app that was supposed to help businesses connect with consumers but instead spent more than $230,000 of the investor funds to bankroll a lavish lifestyle, federal prosecutors said.
Accompanied by family and his lawyers, Correia went through the prosecutors’ case point by point, challenging each allegation.
“This whole week has been the most difficult of my whole life,” he said.
His problems appear to be piling up. The Herald News of Fall River reported that Correia was served eviction papers from his apartment Monday, although it wasn’t clear why.
The City Council is scheduled to meet Tuesday night to consider a no confidence vote in Correia.
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