Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres allegedly continued to utilize public works employees for private work months after evidence merged he used city workers to handle private jobs at his Arlington Avenue home and brother’s 5th Avenue liquor establishment, according to two new cases revealed by NBC New York on Monday evening.
Torres allegedly used public works employees at his private office inside the Hamilton Plaza Office Building on May 6th, 2016. He allegedly called public works director Manuel Ojeda to send a crew of workers to clean and move furniture at a private office inside the 100 Hamilton Plaza office building, according to the news broadcast.
Urban Solutions, a company owned by Torres and his wife, Sonia, has offices inside the building. His wife also works as a paralegal for the law firm of Richard Blender.
Ojeda refused to send the workers for the private work, according to the broadcast. Torres allegedly called a worker on the clock to handle the private work, according to the broadcast. The troubled worker filed a memorandum with the city detailing the occurrence.
The mayor again on October 19th, 2016 used public works employees to handle private work. He requested a public works truck be sent to the closing Paterson’s Men Shop on Main Street to pick up recycling items.
“When they [workers] arrived the mayor was there so they went inside to speak to the owner and started collecting the metal racks to bring to the truck. An employee from the Paterson Men’s Shop was bringing the metal to the curb. At one point the Mayor asked Elliot Carrasquillo to disassemble a tie rack so that he could take it home,” reads a memo from Diane Polifronio, recycling coordinator, to the public works director.
The mayor denied the allegations.
“At no time have DPW workers, or any other city works, perform non-governmental work at my direction,” Torres said in a statement to NBC New York.
Torres is under investigation from the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office for using public works employees to handle work at his home and brother’s business. A number of employees were filmed working at the mayor’s home or his brother’s business and then billed the city overtime for those private works, according to NBC New York investigation.
There’s another investigation involving the mayor. The FBI raided the City Hall last week in connection to a federal grant funded re-entry program in which the mayor used public works employees to handle work at a privately owned church.
FBI agents carted away boxes of evidence from the 125 Ellison Street and City Hall. Torres and his cabinet, save for Ojeda, were away on retreat in at a Poconos resort, when FBI agents descended on City Hall and searched for evidence late into the evening.
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