Almost a week after he was indicted by a grand jury on various corruption charges, mayor Jose “Joey” Torres on Monday morning surrendered to the New Jersey State Police. He walked into the police barracks in Totowa accompanied by his attorney John Azzarello for processing at about 11:30 a.m.
Torres did not make any remarks or answer questions hurled at him by news reporters. Azzarello of Morristown-based Whipple Azzarello said his client intends to plead not guilty in Bergen County Superior Court.
“These are just accusations. They are not proof of anything,” said Azzarello (pictured in front of Torres exiting police barracks).
Torres and three public works supervisors — Joseph Mania, 51, of Randolph; Imad Mowaswes, 52, of Clifton; Timothy Hanlon, 30, of Woodland Park – were charged 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 last Tuesday.
The four men are accused of engaging in alleged overtime fraud. The three supervisors were allegedly supervising the renovation of a warehouse at 82 East 15th Street leased by a company – “Quality Beer” – owned by Torres’ daughter Clarissa Torres and nephew Manuel Torres at the behest of the mayor.
Mania, Mowaswes, and Hanlon billed the city overtime for work done at the mayor’s family’s leased warehouse. The warehouse was being renovated for a beer distribution facility that never got off the ground after the company failed to secure state permits and licenses, according to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.
All three supervisors have surrendered to police in the last week. Mania’s attorney Ray Flood said his client intends to plead not guilty to the charges.
Torres has called the allegations against him “baseless.” He has continued his routine at City Hall. Just before he turned himself in to authorities, Torres had a meeting with the city’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to ensure the city is prepared for the impending snowstorm expected to drop more than a foot of snow.
The four men are still awaiting arraignment. Azzarello said he has not received a date on when the mayor will be arraigned.
Torres was dropped off at the state police barracks by a white Chevy Suburban. His attorney regrouped with him outside of the police station and both rushed inside the glass box entrance of the barracks as a dozen reporters tried to capture him on videos and photographs.
Torres almost appeared to hide behind his attorney inside the police station as cameras aimed at him from the exterior of the glass. His attorney said the mayor will “vigorously” defend himself in court.