Prepared Remarks of Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia Delivered 10-16-18
Good morning everyone and thank you for being here today.
Without a doubt, the last week has been the most difficult of my life.
I want to thank my family, friends, my team and supporters. Your phone calls, texts, and emails of support have been incredible. Thank you!
As I reflect on my time as mayor of this great city I can confidently say that my team and I have accomplished many things that have moved Fall River forward.
• A new Durfee high school is being built
• A new charter school
• Streetscapes and sidewalk improvements
• Park improvements
• Financial stability: Taking the city from a $500k deficit to an $8 million surplus
• Privatizing trash and eliminating the $120 household fee
• Opening a new chapter of economic development for our city – one that is inclusive not exclusive
• Re-branding our city and changing our old slogan of “We’ll Try” to “Make it Here”
• Increased investments in education, police and fire
• Tackling the opioid epidemic
And so many other accomplishments.
But perhaps the best part of being Mayor has been attending community events, shaking the hands of our citizens and making our city a better place.
After a successful first term in office and my overwhelming 64% reelection by the citizens of Fall River to a second term, the city, today, is cleaner and safer and has a firm foundation for continued growth.
It is because of this profound belief and trust that I share with the citizens of Fall River that I am here today to address the most recent attempt to derail the progress we’ve been making.
Some politicians may run and hide. But I stand here today ready to respond directly to the false, politically motivated allegations that have been made against me.
As you all know, in November 2015 I was elected mayor after defeating a former District Attorney. We now know a federal investigation began shortly after I was sworn in as mayor in January of 2016. I do not believe this is a coincidence.
As I continued to challenge the establishment, the investigation seemed to grow more and more
We know that the investigation was unrelated to SnoOwl and that the FBI and other federal agencies were seeking information in response to a smear campaign of false allegations being made by political enemies.
Those allegations related to city grants, fire truck purchases, privatizing trash, hiring choices and virtually every other decision I was making as mayor.
We also know there are no charges relating to any of my duties as mayor of Fall River.
And during this same time the business of SnoOwl continued, and there were no investor complaints. Out of seven investors only 4 are referred to in the indictment.
During 2016 the son of investor #1 repeatedly sought a job with the city.
Throughout this period, and because he was not qualified for the job, I continued to refuse to hire him but pointed him in other directions. The investor became upset as his cousin launched his mayoral campaign against my re-election in 2017. These are not coincidences, rather, these motives, false statements and exaggerated claims to federal agents led us to where we stand today.
At the heart of the government’s charges against me is the theory that there was never a viable consumer product and that after becoming mayor I abandoned SnoOwl.
These allegations are false! I delivered a fully functional SnoOwl app that was available on the Apple App Store and I made explicit plans to transition SnoOwl to new leadership.
In fact, after being elected mayor I met with investors to transition the business to a new CEO. In consultation with investor #1, I was encouraged to hire his nephew to assume the role of CEO in early 2016. Yet the government asserts that I was concealing information.
In the Government’s indictment, they attempt to demonstrate that I stole money and that I filed fraudulent tax returns only after knowing I was under investigation. The indictment references an email, however, the government omits half of the email. I would like to show you the full email, not the one sided argument that led to these false charges.
Per advisor #1’s suggestion, a week later I engaged an accountant for the purpose of reviewing all SnoOwl financial records and preparing necessary financial statements and tax returns.
The government in the indictment suggests that the tax returns filed by me, prepared by accountant #1 were filed after I was made aware of a federal investigation in March of 2017 and for the purpose of concealing some type of inappropriate conduct.
Again, this is false.
In fact, as I just stated, the accountant was engaged with a formal engagement letter dated May of 2016, 9 months before March 2017.
Accountant #1’s efforts to prepare tax returns commenced long before I was aware of any investigation.
In addition to these tax charges, the thrust of this case is that the SnoOwl app, which I put my blood, sweat and tears into developing since I was 20-years old, was somehow a scam.
When asked a question, “Was SnoOwl ever available to consumers?” at last week’s press conference, U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling answered “No, it was just a prototype.”
That answer is just plain wrong!
The central theme of the government’s case is that investors were deceived because the SnoOwl app was not completed and not available to consumers.
This is demonstrably false!
Over the course of 4 years from 2013 to 2016 I worked diligently to honor my commitment to bring to market an app that had value.
I raised funds to launch SnoOwl. I hired a team of programmers to develop the app. I spent countless hours fine tuning SnoOwl’s brand, look and feel, and the visual design of the app. All of that hard work paid off on May 19th, 2015, when Apple approved SnoOwl for download in the App Store.
Far from a prototype, according to Google Analytics; SnoOwl had over 3,000 users who used the app over 100,000 times.
Put simply, I worked incredibly hard to deliver a fully functional SnoOwl app, available to consumers via the Apple App Store, just as I told my investors I would achieve.
But for the unjustified attacks on me, SnoOwl would today likely be thriving.
So I stand here before you adamantly denying the charges that have been lodged against me. I state once again, unequivocally, that I am innocent of all of these charges.
I will continue to serve as the mayor of this city and to stand up for truth.
I will not be bullied out of office.
I humbly ask that the citizens, not the city council, not state and federal elected officials, not bullies, not the press or social media posts, but the citizens of the City of Fall River, to either re-affirm my status as mayor or challenge my status as mayor through the recall process.
This is America and I am presumed innocent until proven otherwise. I will not allow political enemies to remove me from office for their own selfish agendas.
I understand the enormous power and substantial financial resources that the government possesses. I must admit this is intimidating.
But I will not be deterred and am committed to doing my job every single day and clearing my name.
Once again, thank you to everyone who has shown their support and to the many people of Fall River who continue to stand by my side.