PATERSON, N.J. — Ex-Paterson Mayor Jose "Joey" Torres was sentenced to five years in state prison for instructing city employees to perform work at a private warehouse leased by his daughter and nephew while the employees were being paid by the city, New Jersey Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced.
Three former supervisors in the Paterson Department of Public Works also were sentenced.
Torres, 59, of Paterson, was sentenced 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, Porrino said. 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. Each was sentenced 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, along with 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," Porrino said.
"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."
The investigation revealed that, at 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 time sheets. 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.
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