New Jersey

Paterson Residents Chant to Keep Acting Mayor After Torres’ Conviction

What to Know

  • Paterson residents anted for Acting Mayor Ruby Cotton, who was installed in that role after Jose "Joey" Torres was convicted of conspiracy.
  • Torres had been accused of ordering city workers to do construction at a relative’s would-be beer store on city time.
  • Torres could spend up to 5 years in prison and will have to pay restitution, resign as mayor and never seek public office again.

More than 100 Paterson, New Jersey, residents came out in support of the woman who replaced Jose "Joey" Torres, the former mayor who resigned after pleading guilty to conspiracy in a corruption case sparked by an I-Team investigation. 

At a raucous city council meeting Friday night, residents held up signs and chanted "Ruby" in support of Acting Mayor Ruby Cotton, who assumed the role Monday when Torres was forced out of his role as part of a plea deal with state prosecutors. Paterson City Council members were set to vote to see if Cotton will stay in her role until the next mayoral election in 2018.

"Respect this woman," said one Paterson resident. "Give her a chance."

Cotton, who was a councilwoman until she ascended to the mayor's seat on Monday, said she hoped to stay on as acting mayor to restore faith in the office. 

"There's a black cloud hanging over us right now, I'm hoping the light can shine through," she said.

Council members said they'd like the chance to deliberate on Cotton's future, and a decision hadn't been made as of 11 p.m. If the council choses not to act on Cotton's future Friday, they still have another month to install a new acting mayor. If they don't, Cotton will stay in her seat until next year's election.

It's the latest development out of Paterson since a 2016 I-Team investigation revealed that Torres was using city workers to do work for him and a relative's burgeoning beer business on taxpayers' dime.

Torres and the city workers were arrested in March; they all pleaded guilty last week. Under Torres' plea deal, he will spend up to five years in prison, pay restitution to the city and never again seek public office. 

None of the city workers in the case will face jail time. 

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