The attorneys for indicted mayor Jose “Joey” Torres and three public works supervisors appeared in Hudson County Superior Court on Tuesday afternoon seeking more time to review thousands of pages of discovery documents and hundreds of hours of video footage.
There were 53 discs of discovery documents and video footage given to the attorneys by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office according to Robert Galluccio, attorney for Timothy Hanlon.
“I’ve never seen so much discovery,” said Ray Flood, attorney for Joseph Mania. He and the other lawyers needed time to go through the documents and the video footages they told judge Sheila Venable.
Lawyers estimated they were given 70,000 pages of documents and hundreds of hours of video footage. The pages include subpoenas, investigative reports, and other documents, the lawyers said.
There’s “hours on end of videos,” added John Azzarello, attorney representing the mayor. “You can’t speed through it. It’s a lot,” he said.
“I’m burning Saturdays and Sunday mornings,” said Joseph Afflitto, attorney for Imad Mowaswes. He said he has reviewed 80-percent of the discovery; the mayor’s attorney said he has reviewed half of the discovery documents and videos.
Two grand juries
The lawyers could not find transcript from one of the two grand juries the state empaneled. Galluccio said the state convened one grand jury, disbanded it, and then convened a second. He said the second grand jury was given the transcript from the first.
Galluccio couldn’t find the transcript from first grand jury, he told the judge. “As of today, we couldn’t find them,” he said. He said the state has provided exhibit numbers that will make it easier to find the transcript from the first grand jury.
“We can now track it down better,” Galluccio told the judge. He suggested it may be unusual to have two grand juries.
“That’s not an unusual situation,” said deputy attorney general Jeffrey Manis. He said the first grand jury’s time expired requiring the state to empanel a second.
“It’s problematic, if you don’t have transcripts,” Azzarello told reporters when asked if he found issue with two grand juries the state empaneled.
Manis said the defense attorneys had two months to review the evidence. He said the state had told them during arraignment back in April the discovery was “voluminous.” He was not opposed to giving the attorneys more time.
Judge Venable granted the attorneys additional time. She scheduled the next court date for September 22nd, 2017. The attorneys needed to review the evidence against their clients before proceeding in court, they said.
“That will extend the plea cut off,” said the judge. The initial plea cut off time was early September.
The state offered the mayor five-year prison term without parole, forfeiture of office, and ban from public employment.
Public works supervisors Joseph Mania, 51, of Randolph; Imad Mowaswes, 52, of Clifton; Timothy Hanlon, 30, of Woodland Park, were each offered plea deals with no prison time. Each would also forfeit their city jobs and be barred from future public employment as part of the deal, according to deputy attorney general Peter Baker. The supervisors would have to testify against the mayor as part of the plea offer.
“Those plea offers will not go beyond next court date,” said Manis. Galluccio said Mowaswes was interviewed by state investigators and he may have been unrepresented at the time.
The mayor and the three public works supervisors were charged with theft and other corruption charges for allegedly using city resources to renovate a warehouse leased by the mayor’s daughter and nephew.
Hanlon, Mowaswes, and Mania are accused of billing the city overtime for work that they handled for the mayor. Since fiscal year 2014 and up to their suspension, the three men collect almost half-million in overtime pay, according to government records.
Mania collected $181,787; Mowaswes received $144,969; and Hanlon took $124,426 in overtime pay since Torres took office.
A Charles Florio, a developer involved in a permit dispute with Torres’ administration, hired a private investigator who captured video footage of the supervisors working at the warehouse. The video was shared with NBC New York. The private investigators tape led to the indictment against the four men.