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A legal weed scandal erupted an hour south of Boston in Fall River, Massachusetts over the weekend. Mayor Jasiel Correia was arrested on federal charges of extortion, for what prosecutors say was a pay-to-play scheme designed to bleed hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and gifts from prospective legal weed businesses.
According to USA Today, Mayor Correia is accused of accepting payments of $250,000, $150,000, and $100,000 in cash, as well as campaign donations from three separate cannabis business applicants in exchange for a signed non-opposition letter, a required step on the path to legal weed licensing. Additionally, the federal indictment indicates that at least one of the extorted companies had agreed to pay Correia a secondary fee based on future profits, while another vendor allegedly gave a Correia associate 12 to 15 pounds of cannabis bud to be resold on the black market.
Despite the laundry list of charges, Correia plead not guilty on all counts at his first court appearance on Friday.
Gallery — Fuck-Tons of Weed That No One Is Smoking But Cops:
"I'm not guilty of these charges," he told reporters after his day in court. "I've done nothing but good for the great city of Fall River, me and my staff, and my team. I'm going to continue to do great things for our citizens."
Just last year, Correia was arrested on another set of criminal charges, this time stemming from investors in an app business, who said that Correia used their funds to pay for his own lush lifestyle instead of business expenses. With 13 charges from that arrest still pending, and 11 federal charges added in Friday’s arrest, Correia is accused of 24 crimes and is now facing decades of prison time.
Even in the face of two dozen crimes and accusations that he facilitated illegal drug sales, Correia has so far refused to step down as Mayor.
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