Ex-mayor, elected at age 23, loses corruption case appeal
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BOSTON (AP) -- A federal appeals court has upheld the racketeering and fraud convictions of a once-celebrated young Massachusetts mayor who was found guilty of extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from marijuana companies.
In a ruling released Monday, the 1st US Circuit of Appeals dismissed a series of appeals to the 2021 trial of former Fall River Mayor Jasiel Corriea, concluding that the 30-year-old was "conducted by an impartial Jury fairly tried and rightly convicted”.
Once a rising Democratic star after being elected when he was just 23, Correia was found guilty by a Boston federal jury of defrauding investors on his smartphone app and soliciting bribes from marijuana sellers operating in the embattled state Mühlenstadt wanted to work.
The judge later threw out several convictions for wire fraud and tax filing that he said prosecutors could not prove. Corriea remains convicted of multiple counts of fraud, racketeering conspiracy and racketeering. He reported to prison in April to serve his six-year sentence.
Correia's attorneys declined to comment Tuesday. In their appeal, they accused prosecutors of conducting an "unfair smear campaign in the courtroom" and called the evidence against their client "remarkably superficial". The ex-mayor believes he is innocent.
Correia's trial shed light on his meteoric rise to mayor as a freshman college grad. Correia presented itself to voters as a successful entrepreneur who could breathe new life into the city.
Prosecutors told jurors that Corriea actually funded his lavish lifestyle with money he stole from investors who were pumping money into his startup SnoOwl, an app designed to help businesses connect with consumers .
After he became mayor in 2016, prosecutors said Correia started a pay-to-play scheme that used bribes from marijuana sellers in exchange for letters of approval from the city they needed to get a license.
Among other things, Correia's lawyers challenged prosecutors' use of a video clip from a 2015 mayoral debate in which Correia promised taxpayers he would take their money and "spend wisely" — as he said he had it in done his business.
Judge Bruce Selya wrote in the three-judge panel's opinion, "Although the contested comments may indicate that voters were deceived by Fall River, nothing in the records indicates that the invocation of the plight of those voters violated the ability." would have tarnished the jury. Consider the evidence fairly."
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