FALL RIVER, Mass. (CN) – A collection of voters in a Massachusetts city claim in court that their indicted mayor should never have been allowed to be re-elected in the same vote that recalled him.
Jasiel Correia was first elected at age 23 to be mayor of Fall River in November 2015. Two years later, he was re-elected.
Three years prior to his first election, he founded SnoOwl, and then spent the next year wooing investors for the app that would connect business owners to their customers.
But prosecutors say he spent those funds on a lavish lifestyle and political campaigns. He was arrested on Oct. 11, 2018.
Correia is now facing fraud charges in federal court based on his collection of more than $360,000 from investors.
After his arrest, a campaign began in Fall River urging Correia’s recall, culminating in a March 12 special election where although over 61 percent of voters supported a recall, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Bristol County Superior Court by local attorney Paul Machado.
Despite the recall, Correia hung onto his seat as mayor because he was listed among five candidates on the same ballot as a possible replacement, and he won a plurality with 35 percent.
Following the election, Fall River City Councilor Shawn Cadime urged his fellow members of the council to exercise their ability to vote on whether to remove the mayor from office.
“As a city councilor, I still maintain that Jasiel F. Correia II is still unfit and unable to perform the duties of that office,” Cadime wrote in a statement after the election. “One of [his] very first actions as mayor was to issue political retribution. The removal of School Committee Vice-Chairman Mark Costa and School Committeeman Paul Coogan from the Durfee Building Committee was nothing more than political retaliation. This substantiates his inability to govern our city fairly, justly, and without malice.”
The 10 citizens of Fall River that filed the lawsuit argue the city’s new charter, which took effect in January 2018, forbid a recalled candidate from being listed as a possible replacement for the same seat in the same election. Essentially, once someone is recalled, they cannot be re-elected in the same vote, they say.
“Voters, who voted to recall Jasiel Correia, have been disenfranchised,” the eight-page complaint states.
The voters seek an injunction against certification of the election and demand that the second-place finisher, Paul Coogan be named mayor-elect.
A spokesperson for the Fall River mayor’s office did not immediately respond Thursday to a request for comment.