LIVE UPDATES; The Trial Of Former Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia Continues (Day 9)

First published: 9:30AM Eastern Daylight Time, 4/29/2021

Photo: Jasiel Correia

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Welcome (back) to my live coverage of day four of witness testimony in the trial for former Fall River Major Jasiel Correia; the then-23 year old Mayoral prodigy who quickly fell from grace following
his arrest on extortion charges -- related to the issuing of cannabis licenses in the city -- by Federal authorities in September of 2019.

The trial is taking place in Boston at the Federal Courthouse under the supervision of U.S. District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock and is expected to last 3 weeks from this point in time (with jury selection having taken place last week over 4 days).

Correia faces a total of 24 counts during the trial, including tax fraud related to his company called SnoOwl, along with extortion and bribery charges related to local cannabis companies.

According to a press release from Federal officials at the time, Correia was
"arrested and charged for allegedly extorting marijuana vendors for hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes; extorting a building owner for cash and a Rolex watch in exchange for activating the water supply to a commercial building; and demanding that his chief of staff give him half of her salary in return for appointing her and allowing her to keep her city job".

Find rolling updates below;

4:08PM: And we are done for the day. That's it from me, summary of the day can be found throughout the testimony below. I will see you again tomorrow at 9:30AM.

4:07PM: Cesar steps down after finishing his questioning.

3:55PM: Cesar is now testifying that Correia donated $4,000 to the Flint Neighborhood Association, again from the SnoOwl account.

3:39PM: Ahasey steps down and the Government calls its next witness.

Up next is Carlos Cesar; a bus driver and employee of Walmart who lives in Fall River.

Mr. Cesar is the President of the Flint Neighborhood Association in Fall River and has been for over 11 years.

3:29PM: Prosecutors end their questioning of Ahasey by pointing out the plaque that went up in the Aquarium, despite being SnoOwl's funds, listed only Correia's name.

"Did Correia, at any time, mention that plaque should have said "SnoOwl?"

"No, he did not".

3:26PM: Ahasey testifies that Correia donated $3,000 to the Aquarium and, when delivering that check, sCorreia aid it was a donation from "Correia and his family".

The check, however, when presented in court came from the SnoOwl account.

"Was this the check he said was from his family?" asks US Attorney Rubin.

"Yes", says Ahasey.

3:17PM: Taylor is excused by Judge Woodlock. We are moving at quite a clip today.

Next witness on the stand is Melissa Ahaesy, a Psychotherapist in the City of Fall River and the Executive Director of the Children's Aquarium and Exploration Center of Greater Fall River.

Ahasey testifies that she spent three years raising money to be able to open the Children's Aquarium and Exploration Center and met Correia during the course of that fundraising drive.

Ahasey says that Correia pledged a donation to the Aquarium following a meeting and that she made attempts to collect on that pledged donation.

Eventually a check was sent to Ahasey from Correia.

Ahasey testifies that Correia was giving that $3,000 donation from himself and his family.

3:13PM: Reddington continues his cross.

"Did you like the SnoOwl app?"

"I didn't not like it", says Todd.

3:09PM: Reddington begins his cross.

"What is a Soiree?"

"An intellectual gathering".

2:52PM: And we are back in session. My brief respite is over.

The next witness is Patricia Jane Todd and Mr. Tobin will begin the direct examination.

Mrs. Todd lives in Somerset and manages mill buildings.

She testifies that she met Mr. Correia at a gathering in her home, before he was an elected official, when he gave a presentation about a plan for Fall River that would involve reviving mill buildings.

Eventually, Todd became SnoOwl's landlord at a building located at 104 Anawan Street in Fall River.

2:48PM: The Court's afternoon break has run long, and I am not complaining. Three more weeks of this pace is going to be intense.

Right now we are only on counts 1-11 of the indictment (dealing with SnoOwl). Still to come is the main event, of sorts; counts 12-24 will deal with the alleged extortion of local cannabis companies in Fall River. That testimony is expected sometime between now and next week.

2:31PM: Charest steps down from the stand and we now enter our afternoon break. We will return at 2:45PM.

2:30PM: Charest is now finishing up after being asked on redirect if he relied on information from Correia to file amended tax returns.

2:07PM: Over the 3 year period SnoOwl was operating, Charest testifies Correia told him $130,000 of SnoOwl's total funds were spent for Correia's personal purposes.

1:54PM: Charest testifies that, during the 2013-2014 tax year, over $50,000 in expenses from the SnoOwl account were designated by Charest as "personal income" to Correia.

This further highlights the Government's argument that Correia was commingling personal and business funds.

1:42PM: "Were any special math skills required to provide you with the needed documents for you to do your review?"

"That [math skills] has nothing to do with [providing the documents]" is the answer.

The Government here poking holes in Correia's argument, made by Reddington on a few occasions during witness questions so far, that "Correia was bad at math and made mistakes, but did not commit fraud".

1:41PM: Charest testifies that, had he known a strip club expense from The Foxy Lady (DBA Gulliver's Tavern) was submitted as a "business dinner", he would not have signed off on that as a deduction.

Charest says he asked for four things to be able to do his job and only obtained one item on the list.

1) Paypal summary

2) Investor agreements

3) Copies of Delaware articles of incorporation

4) Information about rent paid to 1ZERO4.

1:24PM: Charest now testifying the $10,000 Correia spent on his Mercedes was conveyed to Charest as a "technology expense".

1:15PM: Charest now testifying that hotel stays -- that Correia's then-girlfriend said earlier today were for personal reasons -- were relayed to him to be business expenses for tax purposes.

1:05PM: Charest testifies that, while doing his review of SnoOwl, he was never given a copy of the contracts that the company signed with investors, despite asking for such material explicitly.

: Charest testifies that he was brought on by Correia's lawyers to do an overview of SnoOwl's financial history in 2013, 2014 and 2015 to "separate business from personal expenses".

12:39PM: We are now back from lunch.

Terrance Allen Charest is the next witness, an accountant from Swansea, Massachusetts who worked for SnoOwl/Corriea to review the company's financial history.

Charest signed an immunity agreement with the government in exchange for his testimony.

If Charest does not testify truthfully his immunity is voided.

11:43AM: And we are now on break for lunch, says Judge Woodlock. I will see you all again around 12:30PM.

11:42AM: "You described the Mercedes Correia had purchased, before your relationship, in your Grand Jury testimony as "bottom of the line", is that correct?" asks Reddington

"Yes." says Cleveland.

Reddington downplaying the Mercedes, after that long list of other spending, confounds me.

11:33AM: After over 30 minutes, prosecutors finish an overview of Correia's spending and now Reddington begins his cross.

The sheer amount of time it took to go through the spending here leaves quite an impression.

11:16AM: "You noticed that it was consistent for large purchases that the defendant would split the payments between both credit card and cash", asks US Attorney Rubin?

"Yes, that was consistent" says Cleveland.

Prosecutors implying a likelihood SnoOwl funds were commingled here.

11:05AM: Necklaces for $1,070, 14 carrot diamond pendants/chains for more than $1,000, $500 per night trips to the Chatham Bars Inn (a luxury resort on Cape Cod), personal stays at the Willard Continental Hotel in DC, stays at the Chandler Hotel in Newport, multiple 600+ dollar boutique suits, trips to Tiffany's, stays at the Intercontinental Hotel in Boston for $1,900+, Neiman Marcus cologne, Burberry Coats, . Prosecutors methodically displaying the extent of Correia's spending by asking Cleveland to confirm those purchases while on the stand.

10:41AM: The next witness, joining the Court via Zoom, is Natalie Cleveland (Correia's former girlfriend)

Cleveland, a resident and native of Washington State, testifies that she attended George Washington and the London School of Economics.

She testifies that she met Correia while working as a Senate intern for then US Senator John Kerry.

The Government, in opening statements, alleged that Correia used funds from SnoOwl investors to take lavish trips to visit Ms. Cleveland and purchase her expensive meals and jewelry.

10:28AM: The next witness, Sergio Arias, paid Correia $4,500 to create a website for him. The website, the witness says, never worked and he never received a refund of the $4,500.

Arias runs a jewelry store in Attleboro and says he hired Correia, via Craigslist, to build the website.

"Did you ever run into Correia after the website failed to work?" asks US Attorney Rubin.

"Yes, with a friend." says the witness.

"Did Correia tell your friend he could have him arrested?" Rubin asks

"Yes." says Arias.

"Did you ever get a functioning website from Mr. Correia", Rubin asks on redirect.

"No", comes the reply.

10:20AM: "You were holding yourself as being the interim-CEO of the company, after the MOU was signed [in 2015], correct?" asks Reddington.

"Yes, because I believed Jasiel would be able to give me the documents I needed to take on the position", Sheehan answers.

And, with that Dr. Sheehan steps down from the stand.

10:11AM: "To your knowledge, did Mr. Harding do dilligence to ensure SnoOwl remained on the App Store?", asks Reddington.

"I believe he was, yes.", comes the reply from Sheehan.

Reddington asks, "You had the records from Bay Coast Bank [SnoOwl's Bank Account], correct?"

"Yes", says Sheehan.

"When you looked at the records did you make any observations that checks were being depoited from investors into the Bay Coast Account?" -Reddington

"I don't recall and would need to look at the records." - Sheehan

10:04AM: Correia's defense attorney now begins his cross-examination of Sheehan.

"Correia was exuberant and passionate about SnoOwl?", Reddington asks.

"Yes", says Sheehan.

"Who wrote the MOU [related to Sheehan potentially becoming CEO of SnoOwl in 2015]?"

"Nick Bernier, I believe", Sheehan tells Rubin.

10:01AM: Sheehan now talking about an invitation to meet with a group including Roger Clinton, the brother of former US President Bill Clinton, related to licensing SnoOwl's intellectual property called Hawkeye.

Sheehan tells Rubin that, to his knowledge, that meeting in March of 2017 never took place and SnoOwl investors have received $0 dollars from licensing agreements related to its intellectual property.

9:41AM: And away we go: US Attorney Rubin resumes his direct examination of Dr. Staff Sheehan (Ph.D in Chemistry from Yale and a local lab owner in Fall River), the nephew of SnoOwl investor Dr. David Cabeceiras (a local dentist who put $145k into the company).

Sheehan and Rubin are discussing why Sheehan chose not to accept a position as the CEO of SnoOwl after Mr. Correia was elected Mayor of Fall River in the fall of 2015.

Mr Sheehan and Snow Owl signed a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) in 2015 contemplating taking a position of CEO, but certain conditions were not met and, in turn, Mr. Sheehan testifies he did not join the company as CEO.

The conditions involved obtaining patents and disclosing more information about the finances of SnoOwl.

9:37AM: Good morning all, Judge Woodlock has taken his seat on the bench and the gallery is now eagerly anticipating the start of witness testimony.