The nine members of the Fall River City Council voted by a margin of 8-1 to temporarily remove Mayor Jasiel Correia II from the mayor’s office after invoking Article 3 Section 3-8 of the Fall River City Charter.
This comes one week before the mayoral preliminary election in Fall River between Correia, School Committee Member Paul Coogan and community activist Erica-Scott Pacheco.
Now the possibility of court proceedings comes into play and a countdown to Friday afternoon for a possible transfer of mayoral power.
Council President Cliff Ponte who could perhaps become interim mayor outlined the case against Mayor Correia.
"The mayor completely lacks credibility and at this time due to the additional multiple charges when he creates a lack of credibility in the city,” he said. “For example, would a national company be willing to negotiate economic development opportunities for someone under indictment? We don't know that."
Ponte went on to explain what would happen if a legal battle were to ensue for the office of mayor.
"In the event that council, for Mr. Correia seeks the issuance of a temporary restraining order to prevent the city council president from acting as mayor in accordance with the proceeding vote of section 3-8 of the city charter, the city council authorizes its attorney to agree to the imposition of such an order for the purpose of establishing an agreed upon date for holding a preliminary injunction meeting and any related scheduling matters,” he stated.
“In addition to that, I'd also like to add to that motion that there should be a time period by which the mayor steps aside or gives the keys to his office to the clerk, however we want to do that, by 5 p.m," Ponte said.
One councilor Shawn Cadime who has clashed with Mayor Correia this summer after claiming he was receiving kickbacks for issuing letters of non-opposition, claimed there could be more charges coming.
"Let's talk about the gaming machines,” he said. “I'll say this again, I've said it before. Everyone wants to say that's 'rumorville.' It's not 'rumorville.' I call it foreshadowing. We know that there was a sweep for illegal gaming machines throughout the city where individuals have said they paid five thousand dollar for licensing of those machines. That's still before the FBI and grand jury."
Prior to the city council session last night, Mayor Correia attended a rally of 40 supporters or so outside of government center.
In a conversation with WSAR, Correia said he continued to claim his innocence of all 24 charges.
"The allegations and accusations are just those, they're allegations,” he stated. “They're not true. They're not founded in truth. There is no truth to them and I'll have my day in court. That doesn't mean that we should switch mayors. That doesn't mean that I should resign. It means that I've got a harder battle to fight but we will fight this battle and we’ll come out on the other side victorious."
Correia maintained he would continue to do his job.
"I'm not going to any court,” he said. “The council cannot do what they're doing. They do not have the power to do that. I have to authorize it. So, it's not going to go anywhere. If they want to take it to court, unfortunately I hope they don't because if they do, it's going to cost the taxpayers more money. I am prepared to continue to do my job. I was here Monday, I was here Tuesday and I'll be here Wednesday."
Correia did not attend the city council session last night and was not seen watching inside of his office. He most likely will now have to notify the federal court in Boston of his job status as one of his conditions prior to trial is that he remains employed or looking for employment.