Crime and Courts
Chief investigative reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.
New York

Paterson Mayor Joey Torres Returns to Court for Hearing in Corruption Case, Decline Plea Deal for Now

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 returned to criminal court Tuesday for a hearing in his ongoing corruption case. 

The mayor of New Jersey's third largest city is accused of using city workers to do private construction work at a relative's planned beer business, all the while billing taxpayers. He was arrested in March

Three Department of Public Works employees -- Joseph Mania, 51; Timothy Hanlon, 30; and Imad Elmowaswes, 52 -- are also facing charges in the case, and they've been offered a no-jailtime deal if they cooperate with prosecutors against the mayor.

But both the mayor and the workers decided in the Jersey City courthouse Tuesday that they would continue to fight the corruption charges. The workers have until September to decide whether to go to trial or to take the deal. 

Defense lawyers said in court they needed more time to go over the grand jury evidence, including the hours of video that show the mayor and DPW workers doing work at the planned beer business and time sheets that allegedly show how taxpayers paid for private work. 

Torres has held at least two fundraisers to pay for his legal team, including one on a yacht attended by city employees, friends and local businessmen. It was clear he was in no mood to speak to the I-Team when cameras showed up outside one of them. 

After court Tuesday, the mayor again declined to disclose how much money he has raised or how is spending all the money he is privately raising. 

At the next court hearing in September, Torres is expected to say whether he'll take the plea offer of five years in prison and whether the DPW workers will take the offer of no jail time. 

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