I-Team: New Jersey Mayor Reacts Angrily to Questions About City Workers Doing Odd Jobs

In March, the I-Team released exclusive video showing city employees doing work at the mayor's home

Paterson, New Jersey's, mayor was happy to take questions from reporters following his recent State of the City address.

But Jose "Joey" Torres was not so happy when the I-Team tried to ask him about our reports showing city employees doing private jobs for him - sometimes while on the clock.

"Get out of my office!" he told an I-Team producer before asking a police officer to escort her and a cameraman from City Hall.

For months, Torres has refused to answer questions about a series of I-Team stories that appeared to show city employees doing private jobs for him, from washing his scooter and building bookshelves to doing construction at his nephew's would-be beer business. When the I-Team caught up with him before our first story in March, Torres said in an email no employees had ever done private jobs for him while on overtime.

"Please be advised that at no time has any city employee, on city time, or overtime, or paid with taxpayer dollars, ever performed work for me at my home, or anywhere else," he wrote.

The I-Team later obtained records that seem to show that at least eight employees had indeed been earning overtime during the same periods they were seen on camera doing private work at the mayor's home and the planned beer business. But the mayor never responded to requests for further explanation.

The videos were taken by private investigator Harry Melber, who was hired by a developer who was in a permit dispute with the city. Melber followed and filmed Torres at his home and the planned business for about a year beginning in Nov. 2014.

This month, the I-Team obtained documents that seem to show an additional worker shown on tape at the mayor's beer business was billing overtime.

On Dec. 6, 2014, Department of Public Works employee Gaspar Cintron was seen on tape at the beer business linked to the mayor's nephew about 11:47 a.m. He billed overtime from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. that day, saying on a signed report that he removed sewer pumps from the board of health building - between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Cintron has not returned calls seeking comment.

City worker Tim Hanlon was also at the beer site that weekend morning - and records show he too billed overtime that day.

In addition to eight cases where the I-Team found employees appearing to do work for the mayor while records show they were on the clock, there are at least 10 other instances where tapes showed workers doing private jobs, but records do not show they billed overtime. In one case, they are shown helping his daughter move. In others, they removed construction debris, or washed his scooter.

After the I-Team's initial report, the state Attorney General's office launched an investigation.

It all comes as Paterson faces a budget crisis that led the mayor to call for the closing of summer programs for children in the city.

The Paterson Press analyzed payroll data of some of the city workers seen in the I-Team's reports. The newspaper found some were paid thousands or even tens of thousands in overtime — in one case, up to $45,000 in billed overtime, raising additional questions about how much of that overtime might have been given for work on private jobs, including jobs for the mayor or his family.

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