New Jersey mayor charged in public worker overtime scheme

According to Attorney General Christopher Porrino, the mayor requested the supervisors use DPW employees to do work on a warehouse leased by his daughter and nephew.

The six-count indictment unsealed Tuesday include charges of conspiracy, official misconduct and tampering with public records against Torres and three workers, Joseph Mania, 51; Timothy Hanlon, 30; and Imad Elmowaswes, 52.

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. In the statement, Torres said he would "vigorously defend myself" against the charges and said he is confident he will be "vindicated when the full story is told".

The Attorney Generals office will be holding a press conference today in Totowa in regards to an ongoing investigation into Paterson mayor Jose "Joey" Torres.

"This is a case of old-school public corruption and abuse of power", Porrino said.

Torres later left city hall without speaking to reporters, driving through a stop sign in his SUV. Torres allegedly directed that the work be performed and supervised the work. Two of the men surrendered to state police but did not comment on the case.

Mania had false time-keeping records submitted to the city, including overtime verification forms and bi-weekly timesheets that falsely stated he and other employees were working on legitimate city projects, Porrino said.

Over the course of almost a year, workers renovated the property, painted, and performed carpentry and electrical work at at the building, prosecutors said.

Torres was first elected mayor in 2002, when he became the city largely Hispanic city's first Latino mayor. The Democrat lost a bid for a third term in 2010 but re-gained his seat in 2014.

The charges may not have come as a surprise to the residents of New Jersey's third-largest city.

The indictment does not prevent Torres from continuing to serve as Paterson's mayor while the charges are pending, and city officials say they don't expect him to resign. "Please be advised that at no time has any city employee, on city time, or overtime, or paid with taxpayer dollars, ever performed work for me at my home, or anywhere else", he wrote.

Also, the state last month issued a subpoena for video recordings and documents involving Paterson's tire recycling program after NBC News reported allegations of city workers taking bribes at the disposal yard.

Torres, a three-term mayor, is expected to fight the indictment.

Torres' predecessor, Martin Barnes, was indicted in 2002 while in office. The official misconduct and pattern of official misconduct charges carry a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison without parole.

  • Larry Hoffman