With the conclusion of SnoOwl evidence on Friday, the marijuana bribery portion of the prosecution’s case began on Monday.
The first to take the stand in the alleged extortion section of the trial is Tiverton businessman David Brayton who started Xiphias, now named Nature’s Medicines, at 482 Globe Street in Fall River. Brayton signed an immunity agreement. After attempting to locate the business at several locations, he was able to settle on Globe Street. Brayton was having difficulty advancing to receive the paperwork needed to get his location and business approved. Brayton’s golf friend, Tony Costa, who had connections with Correia, arranged a meeting with Hildegar Camara where bribes were insinuated, according to Brayton. After that meeting, Brayton stated that he met with Costa and he stated it would cost $250,000 to Correia for a non-opposition letter needed for the marijuana business. Brayton stated the price was too high and he eventually gave Tony Costa an agreed upon $100,000 with $150,000 to come when the business became cashflow positive. This led to Brayton receiving the letter, according to his testimony. For helping, Brayton agreed to give Costa 2% of annual sales. Brayton also received his needed host agreement from Correia. Brayton stated he sold his shares of the company due to the case against Correia. Costa later met with Brayton when it was discovered that Costa was being investigated so they could get their stories straight.
In cross examination, Reddington tells Brayton that wasn’t it Costa and Camara that wanted the money and Brayton states that it was Correia. On re-direct, Brayton stated that he had heard that it was expensive to get into Fall River and you had to pay a bribe.
The second witness in today’s proceedings was Tony Costa who is a local businessman and an alleged co-conspirator with Correia. Costa previously pled guilty to extortion concerning this case and entered into a plea agreement. Costa stated that he illegally trafficked marijuana for approximately 10 years. According to Costa, he initially lied to investigators on multiple occasions because Correia and Camara told him to make up a story. Costa stated he became friends with Correia after being introduced to him by his ex-wife before he was mayor. According to Costa, he invested $50,000 in SnoOwl to Correia, $40,000 of it in cash. Costa said that Correia told him that the money was to be spent on the app and was not told it would be used on personal expenses. The note signed by Costa concerning the investment stated the money could not be used for personal expenditures. Costa corroborated Brayton’s story and said that Correia told him it would cost $250,000 for the non-opposition letter. Costa stated that he was attempting to get out of being the middleman in the transaction, but Brayton wanted him to stay because he was not comfortable with Camara. Costa stated that he was allowed to keep $20,000 for tax purposes of the $100,000 from Brayton and gave Correia $80,000 in cash. Once the investigation began, Costa stated that he told Brayton to keep his mouth shut about the $100,000. Costa also said that he gave Correia the Batman watch to thank him for helping him with a water line job at one of his properties which allegedly involved extortion through a permit. According to text messages in evidence, marijuana vendor Brian Bairos agreed to pay $250,000 to Correia for his letter. Costa stated that Correia was having trouble paying his legal bills. Bairos paid an initial $50,000, but Costa kept it without Correia’s knowledge due to his $50,000 investment in SnOwl that he never re-cooped. With some of the evidence in text messages, Costa received marijuana from Bairos and sold it to convert it into money for Correia, according to Costa. Bairos paid $10,000 more, but Costa kept that also as he said he was “playing both sides”. Costa reiterates that he has had no formal role in Fall River government.
In cross examination, Reddington brings up Costa lying previously to investigators and the grand jury. While Costa said he lied because Correia and Camara told him to, Reddington insinuates that Costa was lying to save himself. Costa stated that he could not recall who any of the vendors were that gave him marijuana to sell during his trafficking days. Reddington and Costa went back and forth for quite some time discussing details and testimony, concerning campaign tickets, payments, and meetings, given by Costa which appeared to cause confusion on both sides on multiple occasions. Reddington states that the letter of non opposition for Brayton was signed by Correia on July 14th and Brayton paid the $100,000 on July 14th after the letter had been signed. Costa stated that he couldn’t recall which came first. Reddington brought up several discrepancies between today’s testimony and Costa’s Grand Jury testimony which included how much money Costa kept for tax purposes ($30,000 not $20,000) and that Costa stated it was previously cheaper for Brayton to get a letter through Correia in Swansea ($150,000 not $250,000 like Fall River). Judge Whitlock on multiple occasions asked Costa just to answer the question asked and for Reddington to just ask questions as things got contentious between the two several times. Costa now states that Bairos’ payment could have been $30k or $50k. He wasn’t sure. Reddington was reprimanded by the judge for wasting the juror’s time with a “Goodfellas” reference.
Jeweler Edward Silva was the final witnesses to take the stand today. Silva also signed an immunity agreement. According to Silva, Correia came into his jewelry business with Camara and selected two watches totaling approximately $16,500. Both watches were fitted for Correia’s wrist. Camara later came by Silva’s home, who was a friend and neighbor, to make an approximate $11,500 payment for the watches. Silva gave $400-500 dollars back to Camara as a thank you. Camara picked up multiple watches in Boston, one of which was the “Batman” watch. Friend Tony Costa partially purchased the watch in addition to forgiving some of Silva’s rent. Silva stated that Costa told him that he was giving Correia the watch as payment for the water main work.
During cross examination, Silva said he found a Batman color wall clock in New York that matched the watch which was for Jenny Fernandes who worked for him and is dating Correia. Fernandes was to give the clock to Correia to match his watch. Silva told Reddington that he may have unknowing laundered money for Costa through Rolexes.
Silva stepped down and court adjourned for the day.