Opening a marijuana dispensary in Massachusetts requires all the usual resources: money, expertise, and more money.
Entering the cannabis business in the Bay State also requires cooperation from local elected officials, in the form of a letter of support or “non-opposition.” No letter, no marijuana business permit—an arrangement that makes that letter extremely valuable.
So how do you get one of those? In Fall River, a struggling former mill town and one of the poorest cities in the state, the answer was “bribe the mayor.”
convicted in May of soliciting and accepting more than $475,000 in cash bribes from four would-be cannabis entrepreneurs—was sentenced to six years in federal prison.
Correia, who sold himself to voters as a savvy and suave wunderkid when he was elected mayor at the age of 23 in 2015, is one of the highest profile American politicians to be snared in a cannabis-centered corruption scheme.
And until cannabis legalization is reformed to not grant extraordinary power to politicians like Correia, he will not be the last.
In the meantime, this is great news for federal law enforcement, for whom marijuana legalization—and the temptations it presents for almighty deciders like Correia—presents a prime opportunity to bust corrupt politicians.
According to the Justice Department, after he assumed office in January 2016, Correia accepted bribes “ranging from over $75,000 up to $250,000 in cash, campaign contributions and mortgage discharges” from four marijuana vendors (one of whom was involved with a company now trying to acquire a medical-marijuana license in Georgia).
In one analysis, the saga of Fall River is more about Correia and not cannabis. According to the feds, Correia was a crook as far back as his college