The trial of Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia II has been set for February 24, 2020.
Mayor Correia was arrested on October 11 last year and charged with defrauding investors and using the money to fund what U.S Attorney Andrew Lelling terms as a “lavish lifestyle and burgeoning politcal career.”
The investment was for an app created by Correia called SnoOwl where he is alleged to have used $231,447 of the $363,690 he received from the seven lenders for personal airfare, luxury hotels, adult entertainment, dating services, designer clothes and a Mercedes.
A pre-trial conference this week that lasted all of five minutes at the Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston featured Correia’s defense-team minus the Fall River Mayor. The date was agreed to by both sides.
Somerset-based Attorney Steve Sabra, the host of Law Talk on WSAR, explained what to expect from both sides in the coming eight months.
"There was maybe 18,000 pages of discovery,” he said. “So, now you have to narrow it down and decide what you'll use for your case and what you won't. Both sides will also have to figure out what witnesses they'll present. From the prosecution standpoint, they have to decide what witnesses they'll use to prove each element of each charge beyond a reasonable doubt.”
On the defense’s side they may not use any witnesses in their case.
“The defense has to decide how they will cross-examine each of the witnesses,” Sabra explained. “They'll also decide what documents they may want to use in support of their theory of the case and ultimately who they will use as witnesses, if anyone."
The Somerset-based attorney said he was surprised by the timing of this trial date.
"I did expect it to be a bit sooner,” Sabra told WSAR. “My thought process was that it would be before the end of the year. My basis for thinking that was because the arraignment was in October of 2018. I would think they would generally want to try the case within a year of arraignment.”
Sabra went on to explain another reason why he didn’t expect to see a trial date in 2020.
“I also noted that they excluded some of the time under the calculations for a speedy trial,” he said. “In other words, there are rules of a case having to be brought to trial in a certain period of time. But they can also consider part of the time that a case as pending as excludable time. They did that in this case."
Mayor Correia has pulled nomination papers to run for re-election and a third term as the mayor of Fall River. WSAR asked Sabra how the timing of the case would play a role in the upcoming election process
"In a way, he is fortunate because the trial won't be until the end of February and the election is at the beginning of November,” he responded “He won't have that distraction and the necessity to heavily prepare in lets say October or early November.”
Sabra did say at the end of his response he expects it to still be a distraction as well as an issue for voters and even his opponents.
Correia’s defense team will have until August 9 to file any motions while the government will have until August 30 to respond.