Embattled Massachusetts mayor takes leave of absence

FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts mayor facing federal fraud and extortion charges who has consistently resisted efforts to remove him from office has taken a voluntary leave of absence.

Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia also announced Tuesday that he will suspend his reelection campaign and hand most of his day-to-day duties to City Council President Cliff Ponte. He said he will continue to collect his salary until Jan. 1.

Correia, first elected at 23, said his move allows the city to "build on the successes of my administration without any distractions."

His news conference was held at the construction site for the city's new $300 million high school, one of the successes he touted during his announcement.

Correia has pleaded not guilty to the federal charges.

The mayoral election is next month.