Massachusetts fall ri, who was first elected at age 23, was charged Thursday with utilizing investments in an organization he shaped as his “personal private ATM” to get pleasure from casinos and grownup leisure, purchase a Mercedes, and pay down scholar mortgage debt.

 Correia, the mayor of Fall River, collected greater than $360,000 from buyers to develop an app that was supposed to assist companies join with shoppers, federal authorities say. As a substitute, he spent greater than $230,000 of the investor funds to bankroll a lavish life-style and advance his political profession, officers say.

“His actions have been underhanded, shameless and grasping,” mentioned FBI agent Hank Shaw. “Mr. Correia blurred the traces between public enterprise and personal duties, utilizing investor funds as his personal private ATM, systemically looting nearly a quarter-million {dollars}.”

Correia mentioned mentioned in a written assertion Thursday that he’s harmless and these “unlucky circumstances will by no means influence the functioning of metropolis authorities.”

Now 26, the Democrat was elected as a metropolis councilor in 2013 and after one time period was elected mayor in 2015, the youngest mayor within the historical past of the outdated mill metropolis of about 85,000 individuals and the primary of Cape Verdean descent. The U.S. Convention of Mayors mentioned on the time he was the youngest mayor to run a metropolis as massive as Fall River. He gained re-election handily in November.

Correia was arrested early Thursday in Bridgewater and charged with wire fraud and submitting false tax returns. He pleaded not responsible in Boston’s federal courtroom, advised reporters he believes he will likely be vindicated and mentioned he’ll “completely not” resign.

“I look ahead to my day in courtroom to share my aspect of the story and to clear my identify,” he mentioned in a written assertion.

Correia based SnoOwl in 2012 and commenced the subsequent yr to hunt buyers in return for fairness in his firm, the indictment says. Whereas he spent the funds for his private acquire, U.S. Legal professional Andrew Lelling mentioned, he lied to buyers concerning the progress of the app as the corporate floundered.

Prosecutors allege Correia stole at the least $231,447 from seven buyers in SnoOwl. Authorities say he additionally filed false tax returns as quickly as he realized he was below federal investigation.

Prosecutors say he used the cash to buy tens of hundreds of {dollars} of luxurious objects, together with jewellery for an ex-girlfriend, designer clothes and a Mercedes; to pay for private journey and leisure; to fund his political marketing campaign; to pay down his scholar mortgage debt; and to make charitable donations in his personal identify.

“Through the election, he even touted his stewardship of SnoOwl as considered one of his main {qualifications} to be mayor of the city,” Lelling mentioned.

Correia attended Windfall School in Rhode Island and in 2014 was named entrepreneur of the yr by the Fall River Space Chamber of Commerce, in line with his on-line biography, which referred to as him “a traditional instance of a Fall River child made good.”

Fall River is a working-class metropolis in southeastern Massachusetts, some 55 miles from Boston. It’s maybe most well-known for Lizzie Borden, a resident who was acquitted of killing her father and stepmother with an ax in 1892.

Correia’s dad and mom contemplated transferring out of the town when he was in center faculty, however he resisted as a result of he already had his sights set on turning into mayor, his mom advised The Related Press in 2016.

Correia was just lately amongst 10 Democratic mayors in Massachusetts who selected to endorse Republican Gov. Charlie Baker for re-election in November over Baker’s Democratic challenger, Jay Gonzalez.

Terry MacCormack, a Baker marketing campaign spokesman, mentioned the governor believes the fees are “very severe” and can work with officers to make sure the town has sturdy management as Correia’s case strikes ahead.

The governor’s re-election marketing campaign Thursday eliminated Correia’s endorsement from its web site.

Related Press author Mark Pratt contributed to this report.

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