A federal judge rejected a plea deal today that prosecutors reached with Gen Andrade, the former campaign manager and chief of staff to ex-Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia. 

The deal required Andrade to pay a $10,000 fine but would have spared her jail time — a sentence the judge considered too lenient for the crimes she admitted to.

Andrade pleaded guilty in December to helping Correia extort a $75,000 bribe from a businessman seeking the mayor’s approval to open a marijuana store in Fall River. 

The businessman, Charlie Saliby, testified during Correia’s trial in May that Andrade approached him after the deal was arranged.

“You’re family now,” she allegedly said.

Andrade also pleaded guilty to kicking back a cash bonus and nearly half the salary she earned at City Hall to Correia, a crime her attorney says she’s the victim of. 

In court documents detailing the plea agreement, prosecutors described Andrade as the “consigliere to the man who ran Fall River as an old-school, pay-to-play, corrupt city.”

But they argued she posed little risk of reoffending, and had no criminal history. 

Her attorney, Charles Rankin, wrote in his own sentencing memorandum that Andrade did not profit from the schemes she participated in. 

He painted a portrait of a devoted public servant, who’d given her life to helping those struggling with poverty and addiction in Fall River after overcoming hardships in her own home life.

Rankin said her father died in a fishing accident when she was four years old. 

“She was the oldest child,” Rankin said. “Eventually there were a total of six children. Andrade worked from a very young age to help care for the children and supplement her mother’s income.”

He appended more than 30 letters of support from community members for the judge to read. 

“Despite the current case, I still believe Gen Andrade to be an honorable individual, a valuable member of my community, and a good human being,” wrote State Rep. Alan Silvia, a longtime Fall River police officer, in one of the letters.

In court on Thursday, Judge Douglas Woodlock said he needed a clearer set of reasons to ignore sentencing guidelines that recommended several years in prison. He sparred with the case’s lead prosecutor, Zachary Hafer, over the choice to offer Andrade a “C plea,” a type of plea bargain where the defendant can agree upon a sentence with prosecutors in advance.

The arrangement gave Woodlock only two options: accept the plea, or send the parties back to the negotiating table with the prospect of a trial looming over them. 

“You do not have the right to force a court to impose a judgment simply because you've made the judgment that a case can be pursued in a particular way,” Woodlock told Hafer. “And so in order to satisfy the court, you have to have some compelling reason other than ‘we did it and we know best.’”

Hafer pointed to the immunity agreements prosecutors struck with several witnesses in the case, including prospective marijuana vendors who paid Correia bribes in exchange for his approval. 

Since the government didn’t prosecute them, Hafer said it seemed unfair to seek jail time for Andrade, who was initially offered her own immunity agreement. The deal fell apart after Hafer said Andrade made false statements to federal investigators.

“It seemed to us discordant to say statutory immunity is the right result for this person, and then come in and ask for a period of significant incarceration,” Hafer said to Woodlock.

Roger Williams University Law Professor Michael Yelnosky, who’s followed the case for several months, said the botched immunity agreement explains one of the biggest surprises from Correia’s trial.

“This explains now why she didn't testify,” Yelnosky said. “They couldn't call her because she could plead the fifth.”

Without immunity, Yelnosky said Andrade faced potential prosecution for exposing her role in the inner workings of a corrupt mayoral administration. He also said the false statements that ended her immunity agreement would have damaged her credibility on the witness stand.

A jury eventually acquitted Correia of stealing portions of Andrade’s salary. She never took the stand to challenge his claim that she gave more than $22,000 as a gift to help with his legal bills.

Ben Berke is the South Coast Bureau Reporter for The Public’s Radio. He can be reached at bberke@thepublicsradio.org.