PATERSON, NJ – Former Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres has been fined $17,950 by state election officials for not filling out all the requisite information on his 2006 mayoral campaign finance reports.
In a decision issued on Wednesday morning, the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) said Torres and his treasurer, Dorothy Korybski, failed to provide information about some contributors’ occupations and their employers on the finance reports. In some instances, Torres went back and submitted the required information, but did so five or six years late.
ELEC’s launched its probe of Torres’ finance reports in August 2010, after receiving a complaint about them. The fact that so much time had elapsed, Torres said, made it more difficult to get the information that the state agency wanted.
“If we were made aware of this in 2006, or 2007, or 2008, that would have been different,’’ Torres said. “But going back all this time, it’s hard to get this stuff. We couldn’t contact some of the people involved. I’m not going to make stuff up.’’
Torres described the problems with his reports as “book-keeping issues.’’ The former mayor said, “There’s no allegation that we misused or misappropriated anything.’’
Torres said he has been cooperating with ELEC on its investigation. He cited as evidence of that cooperation the fact that ELEC offered to reduce the fine to $14,350 as long as he pays the penalty by October 2013.
Torres’ main opponent in the 2006 race, former police chief Lawrence Spagnola, declined to comment on the ELEC fines. “After this election, I just hope everyone will work together for the good of the people of Paterson,’’ Spagnola said.
Torres had raised $982,804 for the 2006 race, according to state ELEC reports. That was five times more money than what Spagnola spent, the reports show.
Torres also raised a $1 million for the 2010 election, but lost that one to Jeffrey Jones. Now Torres is considering running for mayor again in 2014. His wife, Sonia, on Tuesday night took a 142-vote lead in the special election for the 2nd Ward City Council seat. That result likely will not become final for a couple weeks until after provisional, mail-in, emailed and faxed ballots are counted, officials said.
Joey Torres, who now works as business administrator in Jackson Township in Ocean County, said he would pay the fine from his personal finances. Korybski, a volunteer treasurer, will not be on the hook for any of the penalty, Torres said.