photo Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr.,Senator Bob Menendez, Nellie Pou, and Jose “Joey” Torres.
the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Paterson NJ, Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that Jose “Joey” Torres, the former mayor of Paterson, N.J, was sentenced to prison today for directing that city employees perform work at a private warehouse leased by his daughter and nephew while the employees were being paid by the city. Three former supervisors in the Paterson Department of Public Works also were sentenced today.
Torres, 59, of Paterson, N.J., was sentenced today to five years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Sheila Venable in Hudson County. Torres pleaded guilty on Sept. 22 to a charge of second-degree conspiracy to commit official misconduct. As a result of his guilty plea, he forfeited his position as mayor and is permanently barred from public office and public employment in New Jersey. He is jointly and severally liable with his co-defendants for paying restitution of $10,000 to the City of Paterson for payments, including overtime payments, made to city workers for the time they spent working at the private warehouse.
The following three co-defendants pleaded guilty on Sept. 22 to third-degree conspiracy charges and each was sentenced today by Judge Venable to a three-year term of probation:
Joseph Mania, 51, of Randolph, N.J., Supervisor, Paterson DPW Facilities Division;
Imad Mowaswes, 53, of Clifton, N.J., Supervisor, Paterson DPW Traffic Division; and
Timothy Hanlon, 31, of Woodland Park, N.J., Assistant Supervisor, Paterson DPW Facilities Division.
Those men also forfeited their jobs with the city and are permanently barred from public employment.
Deputy Bureau Chief Jeffrey Manis and Deputy Attorneys General Cynthia Vazquez and Peter Baker prosecuted the case and handled the sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau. The defendants were indicted in an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau and the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau North Squad.
“Joey Torres corruptly used his vast power as mayor of New Jersey’s third-largest city to serve his own selfish ends, when he should have been serving the residents of Paterson,” said Attorney General Porrino. “Torres thought he was above the law and is now on his way to prison. This prison sentence demonstrates that nobody is above the law, least of all public officials who brazenly abuse the authority entrusted to them.”
“By unlawfully using on-the-clock city workers to assist with a family business, Mayor Torres put his own interests ahead of the interests of city residents and compromised the integrity of his office,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Public corruption takes many forms, but it always has the corrosive impact of undermining good government and public trust. We will continue to make these cases a top priority.”
“Torres betrayed many staff and colleagues who unknowingly believed in him, but his betrayal of the residents of Paterson, whom he was entrusted to serve, is by far the worst of all,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Acting Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “I commend the State Police Official Corruption North Bureau and their partners for bringing justice to the people of Paterson.”
The investigation revealed that, at Mayor Torres’ behest and under his supervision, Mania, Mowaswes and Hanlon performed work and/or assigned subordinate employees of the Department of Public Works (DPW) to perform work at a private warehouse facility at 82 East 15th St. in Paterson. The facility was leased by “Quality Beer,” a limited liability company formed by Torres’ daughter and his nephew. The tasks performed by the DPW workers included renovation, painting, carpentry, and electrical work. The work was performed on various dates between July 2014 and April 2015, while the three supervisors and other DPW workers were “on the clock” working for and being paid by the City of Paterson. The daughter and nephew intended to use the warehouse as a wholesale liquor distribution facility, but they ultimately terminated the lease after failing to obtain the necessary permits and license from the state.
The investigation further revealed that Mania, in his capacity as a DPW supervisor, caused false time-keeping records to be submitted to the city, including overtime verification forms and bi-weekly timesheets. These records falsely stated that Mania and other DPW employees were working overtime details on legitimate city projects, when, in fact, Mania knew that he and the other employees spent at least part of these overtime shifts working at the private warehouse. By submitting and signing off on these timekeeping records and authorizing the overtime details, Mania caused the city to make overtime payments to himself and other employees for hours spent performing private work for the mayor and his relatives, with no connection to any legitimate city business. Mania’s co-defendants, including the mayor, also were charged with falsifying these records as accomplices and co-conspirators.