(This story has been updated to include details from the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts.)
The mayor of Fall River, Massachusetts, was arrested Friday on charges he conspired to extort $600,000 from at least four business owners in exchange for official letters needed to obtain a license to set up marijuana operations, according to federal authorities.
Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia’s chief of staff was arrested on similar charges, according to a tweet from the FBI’s Boston office. Two others are also charged in the case.
In one instance, Lelling said, Correia walked into a vendor’s office and simply asked for $250,000 to issue one of the letters. On another occasion, Correia was paid $75,000 in cash while sitting in the backseat of a car.
The FBI and the IRS were involved in the investigation.
Last month, the FBI said it was investigating corruption in the legal marijuana market.
In a separate case, Correia is accused of stealing investor funds to bankroll a lavish lifestyle.
Correia pleaded not guilty last October to a 13-count indictment charging him with defrauding investors and filing false tax returns.
A trial on those federal charges is slated to begin Feb. 24.
– Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily