New York

Embattled Paterson Mayor Cancels Legal Defense Fundraiser Where $13.5K Watch Was to Be Auctioned

What to Know

  • Paterson Mayor Joey Torres was indicted in March for allegedly stealing from taxpayers
  • Prosecutors said he ordered city DPW workers to do construction at a relative’s would-be beer store on city time
  • The mayor and three DPW supervisors charged in the case all deny wrongdoing

Paterson Mayor Jose "Joey" Torres canceled a planned legal defense fundraiser set for Sunday where a $13,500 watch was set to be a raffle prize.

The "Breitling for Bentley" event was first questioned, News 4 New York learned, by state officials who voiced concern the raffle was not licensed, did not benefit a registered not-for-profit, and was improperly being held on a Sunday at an establishment that served alcohol, all apparent violations of state rules governing raffles.

Torres disputed the event was a raffle, and rather a “door prize drawing.” But even then, it did not conform to state rules that set a small maximum value for door prizes. He pulled the plug, he said, after learning that on Friday.

A promotional flier for the event said tickets were being sold for $250 each and that 150 tickets would be sold. The drawing was to be held at The Brownstone, a restaurant in Paterson.

Torres told the Paterson Press people who bought tickets would get refunds if they wanted them. But that seemed unlikely, he said, because “they were trying to help out the cause.”

He also told the newspaper the diamond-encrusted timepiece was donated by a friend and he would offer to return it, “or else it’s mine.”

In New Jersey, there are no disclosure rules for a politician's legal defense fund as there are for campaign fundraising. So who gives money and how the money is eventually spent is unknown.

In May, Torres held a legal defense fundraiser on a rented yacht and declined to tell News 4 New York how much money was raised.

Torres was indicted on state corruption charges in March for allegedly using city workers to do construction work at a relative's planned beer business while billing taxpayers.

Torres and three Paterson Department of Public Works employees have pleaded not guilty to the corruption charges.

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