New Jersey mayor charged in public worker overtime scheme
09 March, 2017, 00:40 | Author: Kristopher Anderson
Minutes after the state detailed the corruption charges against him in a news conference, Paterson Mayor Jose "Joey" Torres stood on the steps of City Hall on Tuesday, alongside his assistant as she read his statement insisting on his innocence.
Paterson Mayor Jose "Joey" Torres and the supervisors were charged with theft, misconduct, tampering with public records and other offenses, Attorney General Christopher Porrino said.
The indictment alleges that, at Mayor Torres had Mania, Mowaswes and Hanlon performed work and assigned subordinates to perform work while "on the clock" for the city at a private warehouse at 82 East 15th St. leased by "Quality Beer", a limited liability company formed by Torres' daughter and his nephew. "Mayor Torres is alleged to have misappropriated public resources and workers to advance a family business, and his co-defendants allegedly joined in his blatantly crooked scheme". Several city political leaders - both supporters and opponents of Torres - said they do not expect the mayor to resign anytime soon.
Torres previously has said no city workers had ever done private jobs for him, but he has repeatedly declined to comment about the allegations at length.
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Over the course of almost a year, workers renovated the property, painted, and performed carpentry and electrical work at at the building, prosecutors said. Prosecutors said the daughter and nephew were planning to use the warehouse as a wholesale liquor distribution facility, but ended up terminating the lease after failing to obtain the necessary permits and license from the state.
The indictment does not prevent Torres from continuing to serve as Paterson's mayor while the charges are pending. In addition, he says the employees were paid by the city and received overtime.
First elected to Paterson's city council in 1990, Torres became mayor in 2002 and was re-elected in 2006.
The charges may not have come as a surprise to the residents of New Jersey's third-largest city. He fought the indictment and unsuccessfully sought re-election that year, losing to Torres. If convicted, he could be sentenced to spend up to 10 years in prison or pay up to $150,000 in fines. He was the first African-American mayor of Paterson. He has spent most of that money on various events and his campaign account has a balance of about $84,000, according to state records.
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