Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres and three public works supervisors were indicted on Tuesday for conspiring to use on-duty city workers to renovate a warehouse leased by the mayor’s daughter and nephew in a case described as “old school public corruption,” said New Jersey Attorney General Christopher Porrino at a news conference at the New Jersey State Police Barracks in Totowa.
The six-count indictment issued by a grand jury on Monday and unsealed today, charged Torres, 58; Joseph Mania, 51, of Randolph; Imad Mowaswes, 52, of Clifton; Timothy Hanlon, 30, of Woodland Park with second-degree official misconduct, pattern of official misconduct, third-degree theft by unlawful taking or disposition, tampering with public records or information, and fourth-degree falsifying or tampering with records.
Mania, Mowaswes, and Hanlon are supervisors at the Department of Public Works. Mania is a supervisor for the facilities division; Mowaswes is supervisor of traffic division; and Hanlon is an assistant supervisor for facilities division.
The state alleges Mania, Mowaswes, and Hanlon, at the behest and supervision of the mayor, performed work at a private warehouse leased by “Quality Beer,” a company, formed by Torres’ daughter and nephew.
Work included renovation, painting, carpentry, and electrical work, according to authorities. The work was performed while the three supervisors and other public works employees were working for the city.
The supervisors and employees billed overtime to the city. From July 2014 to April 2015, the three supervisors and other employees worked at the warehouse located at 82 East 15th Street while on the clock. Torres directed that work be performed and supervised the work, said authorities.
“This is a case of old-school public corruption and abuse of power,” said Porrino (pictured at podium) describing the case as simple and not at all complex. “Mayor Torres is alleged to have misappropriated public resources and workers to advance a family business, and his co-defendants allegedly joined in his blatantly crooked scheme. We have zero tolerance for this type of abuse of public office in New Jersey.”
Torres and the three supervisors were not charged for private work done at his Arlington Avenue home, said the attorney general. Porrino said the investigation is “ongoing.”
Torres said he was surprised by the charges filed against him today because his attorneys have been in communication with the attorney general’s office. John Azzarello of Whipple Azzarello of Morristown and Ricardo Solano of Friedman, Kaplan, Seiler & Adelman of Newark have been engaged in an “open dialogue” with the attorney general’s office as recently as Feb. 14, 2017, according to Torres.
Torres held a competing news conference on the steps of City Hall while state authorities unsealed indictments against him and the three supervisors. He did not speak or take questions at his conference, but his administrative secretary, Patricia Cabrera, read a statement on his behalf.
Torres said he was fully cooperating with authorities.
“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,” said Torres in a statement. “I am confident that when the full story is told, I will be vindicated.”
Torres called the charges “baseless” and he said he will continue to hold onto his seat as mayor.
“Mayor Torres treated city workers like his personal handymen and treated taxpayer dollars like his own,” said Porrino. “The mayor allegedly stole from the city by deliberately misappropriating city resources for his own use.”
Torres and Mania are expected to be processed at the Totowa State Police Station tomorrow morning. Hanlon and Mowaswes surrendered to state police and were processed prior to Tuesday’s news conference.
The three public works employees charged have collected large sums in overtime pay over the past years. Hanlon doubled his salary through overtime pay in fiscal year 2014 and 2015. Mania came close to doubling his salary through overtime. For exa