Embattled Fall River Mayor Survives Primary, Moves on to Nov. Election

The city council had voted to oust controversial Mayor Jasiel Correia after his most recent arrest, but he remained eligible for the ballot

Embattled Mayor Jasiel Correia of Fall River, Massachusetts, came in second Tuesday in a primary election and will appear on the ballot in November.

Correia, 27, pleaded not guilty last week to extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from marijuana companies. He's also pleaded not guilty to federal charges he defrauded investors in a smartphone app he was developing.

"Let's get on to Nov. 5," Correia told his supporters after the election. "Let's win big. Let's make it happen."

In Tuesday's primary, Correia received the second most votes with 2,777. Paul Coogan came in first with 8,273 votes. Both men will move on to the general election.

The city council voted to oust the controversial mayor from his position after his most recent arrest. Despite being temporarily removed from his duties, Correia’s attorneys say he has no intentions of stepping down.

"If I could have this trial next week, I would," Correia said. "There's no proof, there's no evidence, and we're going to win the trial and we'll win the election."

Correia brimmed with confidence, but said the 11 days since his arrest have been difficult.

"If you've been through death in your family, or you've been through disease, then you know what I'm talking about. That kind of pain. That kind of loss. That kind of emptiness. That's what it's like," he said.

Despite finishing with about a third as many votes as his opponent, Correia said it wasn't over.

"I'm not going to sit here and tell you we're out of this thing, cause we're not. We're not out of this thing," he said. "There's a lot of things that can happen. Mano a mano. One on one. Me and Mr. Coogan. That's what I'm talking about."

Correia faced two challengers: Coogan, a member of the Fall River School Committee, and community activist Erica Scott Pacheco. Both previously faced the mayor last year during a recall election. That time, Coogan was the second-place finisher behind Correia.

"When they voted for him in the recall, they gave him six more months to do the same kind of stuff he's doing, and look how that turned out," Coogan said.

While Correia spent Tuesday campaigning, two of his alleged associates in the marijuana extortion scheme pleaded guilty in Boston federal court. Antonio Costa and David Hebert both pleaded guilty and admitted to their roles in the case.

Correia has maintained his innocence on both sets of charges.

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