State regulators could learn the identities of five marijuana vendors interviewed as part of the former Fall River mayor’s criminal extortion case if a judge amends a protective order at the request of federal prosecutors.
In a motion filed Friday at U.S. District Court in Boston, U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zachary Hafer and David Tobin asked a judge for permission to “share certain materials” with the state Cannabis Control Commission “so that the CCC can perform its legitimate regulatory duties.”
Correia was arrested in September 2019 on charges that he extorted hundreds of thousands of dollars from marijuana companies seeking his signature on letters of non-opposition and host community agreements. The city’s mayor is currently the lone local approving authority for marijuana businesses. Such approval is necessary for securing the final licenses from the state. The CCC has the power to revoke licenses.
Correia pleaded not guilty and is awaiting a May trial.
Three co-conspirators in the alleged scheme pleaded guilty but have yet to be sentenced. Gen Andrade, Correia’s former chief of staff, pleaded not guilty to connected charges and has asked a judge to sever her case from Correia’s.
The indictment refers to the vendors under protective order only as MJ Vendor #1, MJ Vendor #2, MJ Vendor #3, MJ Vendor #4 and MJ Vendor #5.
With the co-conspirators, Correia is accused of trying to extort $250,000 from MJ Vendor #1 and a percentage of sales in exchange for a non-opposition letter. According to the indictment, Correia wanted to take payments incrementally to avoid it looking like a bribe.
In a meeting with Andrade and MJ Vendor #4, Correia said no additional non-opposition letters would be issued, according to the indictment. Later that same day, Correia and Andrade showed up at MJ Vendor #4′s business and allegedly told the mayor they’d give him a letter for $250,000. When asked by the vendor why the amount was so high, Correia allegedly said the money was “for his legal fees.”
Correia was already under federal indictment when he was arrested in 2019. His first arrest came in October 2018 on charges he defrauded investors in a smartphone app company before he was mayor. In all, Correia has 24 criminal counts against him.
Facing mounting pressure and likely not enough votes to win a third term after his most recent arrest, Correia stepped aside from office and suspended his reelection campaign.
Paul Coogan was sworn in as mayor Jan. 6.