Jasiel Correia, the former wunderkind mayor of Fall River, was sentenced in federal court today to six years in prison for corruption and fraud.
“I don't want to take away the potential for the defendant to see a light at the end of the tunnel,” Judge Douglas Woodlock said Tuesday at Correia’s sentencing in John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse.
In May, Correia pleaded not guilty to defrauding investors in a tech start up and denied shaking down marijuana vendors to fund a lavish lifestyle that included a Mercedes Benz, designer clothes and other luxury items, but was convicted on 21 counts of extortion and tax fraud.
The judge granted Correia an acquittal yesterday on six counts of wire fraud. But Judge Woodlock said the remaining crimes were very serious and warranted a stiff sentence.
“This is the most fundamentally corrosive crime a community faces. If we can’t trust each other, if we can’t trust our government, where are we?” Woodlock said.
Federal prosecutors had asked for a sentence of 11 years, pointing to the brazenness of Correia’s actions while he was mayor.
“The cash in clipboards and in envelopes, in sheds and cigars. Fall River under Jasiel Correia was like Atlantic City during Prohibition in terms of the crudeness of the corruption,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Zach Hafer said at today’s hearing. “The court's sentence today must speak clearly [that] that this type of behavior, this type of corruption redolent of an earlier era is unacceptable.”
William Fick, Correia’s attorney, argued for a 3-year sentence.
“Correia genuinely did a lot of real good for Fall River, driven by an interest in public service that was genuine and sincere, beginning when he was really barely a teenager,” Fick said.
But Woodlock said that, under Correia’s mayorship, Fall River’s “City Hall was for sale.”
The judge criticized Correia for his lack of remorse for betraying the public trust and the trust of people who invested in his business.
Correia, who has maintained his innocence, said in May that he intends to appeal.
Woodlock said that Correia would need to surrender to federal authorities within the next eight weeks.
Correction: A previous version of this story said that federal prosecutors were asking for a sentence of more than 12 years. They had asked for 11.
This is a developing story.