A Democrat mayor, who was arrested last week for embezzling $230,000 and spending it on designer clothes, jewelry, casinos and adult entertainment, has refused to step down from his position.
Mayor Jasiel Correia, who was charged on suspicion of fraud and tax-related crimes, has claimed his arrest is “politically motivated”.
According to Fox News, Correia said the attack began shortly after assuming office because he was “challenging the norms” in the town.
“Not arrogantly, not selfishly, but humbly, I will continue to every day show how hard working your mayor is, and I will not resign,” he continued.
The nine-member Fall River City Council adjourned a special meeting after an hour of public input Tuesday before discussing the indictment against Correia, MassLive.com reported.
He has pleaded not guilty and vowed to fight the charges.
Correia’s attorney threatened legal action if the council removed him.
City Attorney Joseph Macy said earlier that the council does not have the power to remove Correia because he was elected and has not been convicted of a crime.
Councilor Steven Camara said his colleagues should take a “deep breath,” and weigh removing Correia against the costly litigation that would follow.”Let the judicial system do its duty,” he said.
Other councilors called for Correia, 26, to be put on administrative leave while he fights the charges against him.
“If he truly loves Fall River, he should step down,” said Council President Cliff Ponte.
Councilor Bradford Kilby urged Correia to step down to avoid causing a distraction.
“Step aside, Jasiel, do what’s right,” he said.
During the meeting, one woman said she was starting the process to recall Correia. Others came to the mayor’s defense, insisting that he remain in office.
Federal prosecutors allege Correia stole $231,447 from investors to fund a lavish lifestyle.
He allegedly spent the money on designer clothes, a Mercedes-Benz, jewelry, his mayoral campaign, travel, student loans and credit card payments, casinos and adult entertainment.
The money was supposed to go toward developing an app, SnoOwl, to connect businesses with customers.
Authorities say he persuaded seven people to invest $363,690 in the company, the Boston Herald reported.
Correia was elected as city councilor in 2013, at age 23, and elected as mayor of Fall River in 2015, just one term later.