Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia announced his leave of absence at a press conference Tuesday. (Madison Rogers/WBZ NewsRadio)
FALL RIVER, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia announced at a press conference Tuesday he's stepping back from his duties and suspending his re-election campaign amid federal fraud and extortion investigations.
"At the end of the day, Fall River must win, not just any one person," Correia said. "That is why at this time, the city must have an opportunity to continue to thrive and build upon the solid foundation and framework without distraction."
Voters will decide who the next mayor of the city is on November 5; City Council President Cliff Ponte will take over the mayor's duties until January, though Correia will continue to receive the mayor's salary.
Correia made it clear at his noon press conference that he views his time in office as a resounding success. His announcement was accompanied by a long list of improvements to the city under his watch, including construction of a new high school and a revitalized downtown.
But the 27-year-old, elected as the youngest mayor in the city's history in 2015, said it's time for him to go.
"This announcement allows the voters who will take to the polls the chance to evaluate candidates on policy and platforms, not headlines," he said.
Those headlines include Correia being indicted twice in the span of one year, and allegations that he stole money from investors and shook down businesses in Fall River.
In October 2018, Correia was arrested on federal fraud charges, accused of defrauding investors in the development of his app, SnoOwl. In September 2019, he was arrested again for allegedly extorting marijuana businesses.
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges, and continued to show up to work prior to Tuesday's announcement—despite the Fall River City Council voting last month to strip Correia of his duties and filing a motion for him to vacate his office.
Last week, a judge ruled that the council did not have the authority to force Correia out.
WBZ NewsRadio's Madison Rogers (@_madisonrogers) reports