PATERSON, N.J. - The Paterson City Council vote of no confidence against Mayor Jose "Joey" Torres failed to pass during Tuesday night's council meeting. Last week council president William McKoy continued calls for a no confidence vote on Torres, while residents who attended called for him to resign.
The Council mulled the decision for a few weeks since corruption charges against Torres were first announced for a vote of no confidence amid uncertainty if there would be enough votes to pass the motion.
In previous weeks since the charges were announced mostly residents opposed to Torres staying in office voiced their opinions and came to meetings to speak out against the mayor. Tuesday the council chambers was partially filled with residents wearing "I believe in Torres" shirts and holding signs saying "I am Torres" in a show of support for the mayor.
Last week Torres surrendered to State Police in Totowa, a week after corruption charges were announced against him and three DPW supervisors. The charges stem from a warehouse in Paterson that was leased to Torres' daughter and nephew where DPW workers did renovations while on the clock for the city. Torres allegedly ordered and oversaw work at the warehouse in an attempt to help his family start a beer distribution company.
Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced on March 8 that a state grand jury has indicted Mayor Joey Torres and three supervisors in the Paterson Department of Public Works (DPW) for allegedly using on-duty city workers for renovations at a private warehouse leased by the relatives of the mayor while the employees were being paid by the city.
"This is a case of old-school public corruption and abuse of power," Porrino stated at a news conference announcing the charges. "Mayor Torres allegedly treated city workers like his personal handymen, treated taxpayer dollars like his own. We have zero tolerance for this type of abuse of public office in New Jersey."
The six-count indictment against Torres and three workers, Joseph Mania, 51, of Randolph, Timothy Hanlon, 30, of Woodland Park, and Imad Elmowaswes, 52, of Clifton include charges of conspiracy (2nd degree), official misconduct (2nd degree), theft by unlawful taking or disposition (3rd degree), and tampering with public records (4th degree).
The indictment alleges that Mayor Torres ordered the three supervisors to perform renovation work at the private warehouse leased by Torres' daughter and nephew. The work included painting, carpentry and electrical work, and was allegedly performed while the three supervisors were working for and being paid by the City of Paterson. Prosecutors said the work was performed between July 2014 and April 2015.
"Mayor Torres played the generous father and uncle, but he left the bill for his largess with city taxpayers, who paid for the overtime shifts that city employees worked at this private warehouse," Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice said. "We allege that these defendants corruptly exploited public workers and funds for their own benefit."
It is further alleged that Mania caused false time-keeping records to be submitted to the city falsely stating that Mania and other DPW employees were working overtime on city projects when in fact spent overtime shifts working at the private warehouse. By submitting and authorizing the time records, Mania caused the City of Paterson to make overtime payments to himself and other employees.
In response to the charges filed against him, Mayor Torres stated, "I am extremely disappointed and surprised that the Attorney General has elected to pursue this case and file these charges against me today. I have been aware of the investigation for some time, and I have never wavered from the fact that I am innocent.”