The trial of former Fall River mayor and city councilor Jasiel Correia II went into the third day of hearing witness testimony.
Wednesday’s first witness to take the stand was app developer Joshua Harding who was hired by Correia and SnoOwl to develop the app. Harding’s company Statewide Software was paid promptly, according to Harding. Harding got version 1.0 of the software into the Apple app store. In 2015, Harding became an employee of SnoOwl, along with 2 others. Once becoming an employee, Harding was paid hourly and a small percentage of stock that was never cashed in. Harding stated that eventually he was getting paid from late to not at all. He was told by Jasiel that he wasn’t taking a pay. Harding stated that once Correia told him he was running for mayor, he knew the app was over. By August of 2017, Harding was fully paid by Jasiel, but was no longer doing work on the app. These payments were apparently made after the SnoOwl investigation began.
In cross examination, Correia lawyer Kevin Reddington points out that checks payable to Harding were generally signed by Nick Bernier. Reddington continued to tie Nick Bernier to SnoOwl and that Harding was dealing mainly with Bernier when Jasiel was running for mayor and then became mayor. This was the time period when Harding had more difficulty getting paid, according to Reddington. Harding states that he referred investor Eisenberg to Correia.
Nick Bernier, who eventually was chief operating officer of SnoOwl, followed Harding on the stand. Bernier, who was already familiar with Jasiel after becoming friends while running for City Council, stated that Correia’s pitch to him on SnoOwl was that it would be a Yelp that worked better. Bernier stated that Correia told him he was not taking a salary due to his prior venture Find It Networks, a theme that has been common according to testimony by investors and those involved in the app. Bernier wanted to take a salary with a small child at home, but stated he did not take one. Bernier stated that Correia had a condo in Newport that he believed was paid for through the previous Find It Networks venture. When Bernier began trying to cleanup the finances for SnoOwl, he stated that he was surprised that the amount of money in the created account was not higher. Bernier said that he never became CEO of SnoOwl and that Correia said that he mixed business and personal accounts. Bernier introduced Correia to Gen Andrade and helped him with his campaign for mayor. According to Bernier, Staff Sheehan never became SnoOwl CEO. Bernier eventually resigned from SnoOwl because he felt the company was problematic and Correia wasn’t doing enough to fix it. He was asked to sign a non disclosure agreement so he wouldn’t go to the newspapers and Bernier refused.
During cross examination, Reddington and Bernier seemed to agree that Correia was a pretty lousy businessman, but he had great ideas. Reddington throughout the questioning tried to tie Bernier to financial decisions for SnoOwl in addition to explaining how certain trips and entertainment that Correia paid for were business expenditures including a strip club visit that Bernier also attended. Bernier stated that he feels Correia is still in control of SnoOwl while Reddington argued that Bernier and Staff Sheehan were in control after Correia became mayor.
Bernier is by far the witness that has been on the stand the longest so far as his testimony took a few hours.
Dr. Stafford Sheehan was the third witness to take the stand in today’s proceedings. Sheehan, who is the nephew of investor David Cabeceiras, met with Bernier and Correia once Jasiel became mayor to try and save SnoOwl. During this meeting, a memorandum of understanding was crafted as to what conditions needed to take place for Sheehan to become the new CEO, according to the prosecution. Sheehan stated that he did not receive everything he requested as part of the conditions which included some financial records. Sheehan was concerned about where his uncle’s money had gone and when going over finances, realized that all of the money his uncle invested had not been documented. Sheehan said he was told later on about Correia taking a salary and where he spent some of the investment money. Evidence states that an extension was made on the MOU, but the date lapsed.
Court proceedings ended for the day just before 4:15 p.m. with Sheehan still on the stand. Reddington has yet to begin cross examination.