Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Chief of staff for former Fall River mayor pleads guilty to extortion, bribery

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The chief of staff for former Fall River mayor Jasiel Correia pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to charges of extortion, bribery, and making false statements, the office of the US Attorney for Massachusetts said in a statement.

Authorities say Genoveva Andrade, 49, of Somerset, admitted in court to conspiring with Correia in extorting $150,000 from a marijuana vendor in exchange for a letter of nonopposition from Correia. Vendors must obtain a nonopposition letter from the head of the local government to then receive a license to operate a marijuana business, authorities said.

“You’re family now,” Andrade told the vendor after he agreed to pay Correia for the letter, authorities said.

Andrade also admitted to helping Correia extort a Fall River business owner, the US attorney’s office said. In this case, Andrade helped Correia “obtain a stream of benefits, including cash and a Rolex watch valued at approximately $7,500 to $12,000, in exchange for official action and assistance that was favorable to the business owner,” the US attorney’s office said in the statement.

Correia hired Andrade as his chief of staff in November of 2017. Authorities say she admitted to kicking back half of her salary to Correia on a bi-weekly basis from the time she began working for him until July 2018. She also kicked back “nearly all of the $10,000 city funded ‘snow stipend’ that Correia approved for Andrade,” the US attorney’s office said.

Andrade also admitted to making false statements in December 2018 to federal agents investigating corruption charges against Correia, prosecutors said

Andrade agreed to plead guilty to two counts of extortion conspiracy, two counts of extortion, one count of bribery and one count of false statements, according to the US attorney’s office. She is scheduled to be sentenced April 27.

Correia is scheduled to be tried in February on federal charges of investment fraud and extortion. The former mayor, who lost his bid for reelection last year, has pleaded not guilty.

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