PATERSON, N.J. -- The rumors finally ceased Tuesday when state authorities charged Paterson Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres and three city DPW supervisors with having employees work at a private warehouse leased by the mayor’s daughter and nephew while collecting taxpayer money.
Charged with Torres, 58, of Paterson are two DPW supervisors, Joseph Mania, 51, of Randolph, and Imad Mowaswes, 52, of Clifton, and Assistant Supervisor Timothy Hanlon, 30, of Woodland Park.
A six-count indictment obtained by the state Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau and unsealed Tuesday accuses them with conspiracy, official misconduct, tampering with public records and theft, among other offenses.
All were being processed Tuesdasy afternoon at the State Police Totowa barracks in Totowa, Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino said.
A state grand jury indicted the quartet Monday as part of an ongoing investigation by the state Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau and the NJSP Official Corruption Bureau into "alleged abuses involving the Paterson DPW and improper use of city employees and overtime pay," he said.
At the mayor's behest, the indictment charges, Mania, Mowaswes and Hanlon conducted work and/or assigned subordinate employees at a private warehouse leased by “Quality Beer,” a limited liability company formed by Torres’s daughter and his nephew -- all under Torres's supervision.
The work, including "renovation, painting, carpentry, and electrical work," was done while the three supervisors and other DPW employees were working for and being paid by the city, Porrino said.
“This is a case of old-school public corruption and abuse of power,” the attorney general said.
Torres "misappropriated public resources and workers to advance a family business," and his co-defendants "joined in his blatantly crooked scheme," Porrino said.
“Mayor Torres played the generous father and uncle, but he left the bill for his largess with city taxpayers, who paid for the overtime shifts that city employees worked at this private warehouse,” said DCJ Director Elie Honig.
The crew did the work at 82 East 15th Street while on the clock with the DPW -- and under the direct supervision of Torres -- at various times between July 2014 and April 2015, the indictment charges.
"The daughter and nephew intended to use the warehouse as a wholesale liquor distribution facility," Porrino said, "but they ultimately terminated the lease after failing to obtain the necessary permits and license from the state.
The indictment also charges that Mania, in his capacity as a DPW supervisor, "caused false time-keeping records to be submitted to the city, including overtime verification forms and bi-weekly timesheets," the attorney general said.
The records "falsely stated that Mania and other DPW employees were working overtime details on legitimate city projects, when, in fact, Mania knew that he and the other employees spent at least part of these overtime shifts working at the private warehouse," he said.
"By submitting and signing off on these timekeeping records and authorizing the overtime details, Mania caused the City of Paterson to make overtime payments to himself and other employees for hours spent performing private work for the mayor and his relatives, with no connection to any legitimate city business," Porrino said.
Deputy Bureau Chief Jeffrey Manis and Deputy Attorneys General Cynthia Vazquez and Peter Baker presented the case to the state grand jury for the DCJ Corruption Bureau. Their investigation with detectives in the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption North Squad was continuing, Porrion noted.
He also commended all of the members of the State Police Official Corruption North Squad for their work on the investigation.
The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Peter E. Warshaw in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Bergen County, where the defendants will be ordered to appear in court at a later date for arraignment, Porrino said.
CLICK HERE for a copy of the indictment: www.njpublicsafety.com.