TRENTON – Jackson’s former business administrator has been sentenced to five years in prison for having public employees perform work on a private warehouse leased by his family members.
Jose “Joey” Torres, 59, the former mayor of Paterson and former business administrator in Jackson, pled guilty Sept. 22 to the charge of second-degree conspiracy to commit official misconduct. Entering the guilty plea caused Torres to forfeit his position as mayor; he is permanently barred from public office and employment in New Jersey.
He was sentenced Nov. 14 by Superior Court Judge Sheila Venable in Hudson County.
There was no mention of any illegal activities in Jackson in the press release listing his sentencing.
Three co-defendants also entered guilty pleas Sept. 22 to third-degree conspiracy charges and were sentenced to three years’ probation. The three Department of Public Works supervisors– Joseph Mania, 51, Imad Mowaswes, 53, and Timothy Hanlon, 31–forfeited their jobs with the city and are permanently barred from public employment.
All four men are responsible for paying restitution of $10,000 to Paterson for pay and overtime pay made to the city workers while they worked on that private warehouse.
Torres directed the three DPW workers to perform work on a privately owned warehouse at 82 East 15th St. in Paterson. That warehouse was leased by Torres’ daughter and his nephew under the LLC “Quality Beer.” The investigation found that work was performed between July 2014 and April 2015 while those workers were on city time. The workers completed renovations, painting, carpentry and electrical work on the building. Mania falsified time sheets to show that employees were working on city projects when, in fact, they were working on the warehouse. All four men were charged with falsifying these records as accomplices and co-conspirators.
Torres’ daughter and nephew ultimately terminated their lease when they were unable to get the necessary permits to operate a wholesale liquor distribution facility.
“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,” Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino said in a Nov. 14 statement. “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,” Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice said in that same press release. “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,” Colonel Patrick Callahan, acting Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, said in the attorney general’s press release. “I commend the State Police Official Corruption North Bureau and their partners for bringing justice to the people of Paterson.”
Jackson Mayor Michael Reina could not be reached for comment by press time.