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BOSTON — For a second time, former mayor Jasiel Correia II, destined to report to federal prison in a week, asked Judge Douglas Woodlock on Friday to stay out of prison — this time until March.
Correia, who was sentenced to six years in federal prison in September for political corruption, cited an increase in infections of the omicron variant of COVID-19. His attorneys, William Fick and Daniel Marx, asked to delay his reporting to prison "in light of the ongoing public health crisis," for either at least 45 days or until two weeks after the close of evidence in co-defendant Gen Andrade’s trial, set to begin March 7.
The attorneys suggest that "by then, the current COVID-19 surge may have subsided."
The five-page court filing also shed light on where Correia will be spending his time in prison: Federal Correctional Institution Berlin, in Berlin, New Hampshire.
Government: If Correia can work at a restaurant, he can go to prison
Later on Friday, the government filed its opposition to the motion, saying "Justice delayed is justice denied."
Prosecutors noted that other convicted felons with serious health conditions have been denied compassionate release due to the COVID pandemic, and included evidence they suggest shows the omicron surge is already beginning to wane.
Correia's defense attorneys wrote that their motion “is not intended as a tactic for improper delay, and if it is allowed, Mr. Correia will continue to work for his family’s small business and to abide by all conditions of supervision, as he has since his arrest more than three years ago, on October 11, 2018.”
Prosecutors were unmoved by the motion. "Correia, who recently turned 30 years old, presents no physical ailments that put him at any greater risk in prison for COVID-19 than the older and more physically frail defendants already serving their debts to society," wrote U.S. Attorney Rachael S. Rollins in the government's motion. "Indeed, if Correia is apparently of sound enough health in order to run 'front-of-the-house' and 'back-of-the-house' duties ... at his family’s luxury steak house ... he is hale and hearty enough to start serving his prison sentence."
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This could be Correia's third delay
If Woodlock approves this latest request by Correia and his defense team, it would be the third delay for the 30-year-old to self-report to a Bureau of Prisons facility.
In November, Correia asked for a one-month reprieve from his original report date Dec. 3, to Jan. 3, to help out during the holidays at the Towne House on Purchase Street, the restaurant and function hall owned by the family of his wife, Jenny Correia.
Woodlock gave him that extension, adding an extra week to take him to Jan. 10. Woodlock granted him another delay to Jan. 28, at that time citing an increase in COVID cases.
Defense: Too many COVID cases in FCI Berlin
The Bureau of Prisons website indicates that FCI Berlin holds a total of 757 male prisoners — 723 in a medium-security facility, and 34 at an adjacent minimum-security camp.
In Correia's motion, his attorneys maintain that according to BOP data, approximately 25% of the total population of prisoners at FCI Berlin have tested positive for COVID, or 188 cases. They also note nine positive cases from staff.
“Those alarming figures put FCI Berlin in the top 10 of the hardest-hit prisons among all BOP facilities nationwide. As an emergency measure, the BOP has indefinitely suspended all visiting at the prison,” according to his attorneys.
A warning on the website for FCI Berlin confirms that no visitors are allowed at the facility "until further notice."
Correia's conviction appeal is pending
Correia is appealing his conviction in May after a monthlong trial with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and has asked to stay out of prison pending that appeal.
To date, Woodlock has yet to rule on that motion.
Correia needs that ruling to either stay out of prison pending the appeal if Woodlock rules in his favor; or if not, to ask the appeals court for a stay before they decide whether he should get a new trial.
Andrade trial moved to March: Here's why the judge continued the trial of Jasiel Correia's chief of staff
Correia says Andrade’s March trial could affect his motion
The corruption trial of former mayoral chief of staff Andrade started on Dec. 6, but halfway through jury selection was abruptly halted when it was discovered one of the government’s witnesses had contracted COVID. Woodlock never identified the witness.
Correia's most recent motion asks to be kept out of prison pending Andrade’s trial, that he be given a delay of his surrender date until 14 days after the close of evidence in her proceeding, which is set to begin again March 7.
“Among other reasons, evidence introduced at Ms. Andrade’s forthcoming trial may inform this Court’s consideration of Mr. Correia’s pending motion to stay,” his attorneys argued.
On May 14, Correia was convicted of 21 counts of wire fraud, tax fraud, extortion and extortion conspiracy. A jury found that he intentionally misused hundreds of thousands of dollars in investors' money in a smartphone app he developed called SnoOwl, spending it on everything from luxury clothing and cars to student loan payments to adult entertainment. He also was found guilty of lying on his income taxes, and extorting potential marijuana vendors for the paperwork necessary to do business in Fall River. However, during sentencing, Woodlock threw out 10 of the wire fraud and tax fraud convictions on grounds that prosecutors provided insufficient evidence for a conviction.
Woodlock sentenced Correia to six years in federal prison and ordered Correia to pay about $300,000 in restitution to the investors in SnoOwl.
Andrade is facing four counts of extortion conspiracy, aiding and abetting extortion, bribery and lying to government law enforcement.
Jo C. Goode may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Support local journalism and subscribe to The Herald News today!
This article originally appeared on The Herald News: Jasiel Correia asks to stay out of New Hampshire prison until March