Crime and Courts

Chief investigative reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.
New Jersey

Paterson Mayor Joey Torres Surrenders in Corruption Probe

Three city workers have also been indicted in the state corruption investigation

What to Know

  • Paterson Mayor Joey Torres and three city workers were hit with corruption charges last week
  • Torres has been the subject of months of I-Team reporting on city workers allegedly doing private jobs for him
  • Torres released a statement last week saying, "I fully intend to vigorously defend myself against these allegations"

Paterson Mayor Joey Torres surrendered to authorities Monday to face charges in connection with a state corruption investigation.

Torres, indicted last week on charges of theft, misconduct, tampering with public records and other offenses, had been permitted to surrender at an agreed time. He did so just before noon. Three public works supervisors also indicted in the case surrendered to authorities last week; they've also been suspended without pay, according to city councilman Andre Sayegh.

The mayor of New Jersey's third-largest city was the subject of months of I-Team reporting on municipal workers being paid to do private jobs for him and his relatives. Torres and the three indicted workers all deny wrongdoing.

Last week, Torres issued a statement saying, "I fully intend to vigorously defend myself against these allegations, and I look forward to the opportunity to present all of the facts in a court of law. I am confident when the full story is told, I will be vindicated." 

First elected to Paterson's city council in 1990, Torres became mayor in 2002 and was re-elected in 2006. The Democrat lost a bid for a third term in 2010 but re-gained his seat in 2014.

Through much of 2016, Torres 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 the first report in March 2016, 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 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. 

Torres is the second prominent New Jersey mayor to face criminal charges in the last few months. In an unrelated case, Passaic Mayor Alex Blanco pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges on Nov. 18 and resigned from office.

A concurrent federal investigation into Torres is underway, the I-Team has reported, but there have been no charges in that probe. 

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