Government

Former Council Candidate Files Complaint Against Councilman Velez

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Juan "Mitch" Santiago sent a letter to the mayor and current council expressing his interest in the 6th Ward Council seat that will be vacant when Mayor-Elect Sayegh is sworn in to office. Credits: Steve Lenox
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Though not a candidate in the May 8 contest 5th Ward Councilman Luis Velez was a constant presence on the campaign trail endorsing both Andre Sayegh for Mayor and Dr. Lilisa Mimms for Council Credits: Steve Lenox
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PATERSON, NJ- A former, and aspiring, candidate has filed a civil complaint with the Paterson Police Department against one of the city council members he’d sit beside if his bid is successful.

Juan “Mitch” Santiago, who finished sixth in the 14-candidate field in the May 8 contest, has accused 5th Ward Councilman Luis Velez of spreading "untruths" about him electronically, actions, he believes, amount to cyber bullying. The complaint, a copy of which was obtained by TAPinto Paterson, said that Santiago told the responding police officer that “just before the election, Councilman Luis Velez sent slanderous messages to Santiago’s family and friends.” 

The “message” in question, which has been viewed but not verified by TAPinto Paterson, appears to be made on Facebook Messenger and urges the recipient to “not vote Pedro and his group, especially Juan M Santiago has a history of domestic violence and lost his job because of the fact (sic).”

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Velez said, “This is news to me,” when asked about the complaint for the first time. Velez called the authenticity of the posts in to question because it isn't his "style." 

“I don’t do that type of politics," he said.

Asked about any history of domestic violence, Santiago, who also served as a member of the Paterson Board of Education, said that there were charges against him more than 10 years ago that were dismissed.

“I have custody of my children,” Santiago said as an indication that the charges were not serious.

Santiago, currently an employee of Paterson’s Department of Public Works, further stated that at no time did he lose his job over any charges, rather he was laid off as a member of the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department.  

“I don’t like bullying,” Santiago said. “He (Velez) crossed the line with the wrong person.”

Santiago said he filed the complaint on his own but plans to hire a lawyer to stand with him at the June 1 hearing, at which time a judge will decide whether the accusations rise to the level of filing charges against Velez.

Velez said that he won’t let the complaint be a “distraction” in his efforts to move Paterson forward and offered his hope that they “find the person trying to do damage.”

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