Paterson mayor pleads guilty to corruption charges; must resign

Posted: Updated:
PATERSON -

Paterson Mayor Joey Torres pleaded guilty to corruption charges Friday, which means he will be forced to step down from his job.

Torres plead guilty to second-degree conspiracy in Hudson County court after months of saying he was innocent.

"Today, Mayor Joey Torres retracted his vigorous denials and promises of vindication and admitted to engaging in the old-school corruption we charged him with earlier this year,” Attorney General Chris Porrino said in a statement.

RELATED: Mayor Torres and his attorneys comment on the plea deal

Torres will have to pay $10,000 in restitution and could spend five years in prison.

“I’m sorry. I regret the actions that I took. I’m very sorry,” Torres told reporters after the hearing.

Torres and three city public works officials were charged with conspiring to have city employees work overtime at a warehouse leased by the mayor's family between July 2014 and April 2015. But the attorney general's office last spring offered co-defendants plea bargains allowing them to avoid jail time if they testified against the mayor.

Those three men, Joseph Mania, Imad Mowaswes and Timothy Hanlon, did carpentry, electrical work and painting at the site, all while being paid with city funds. Those men were secretly recorded on video doing that work. 

That site at East 15th Street was supposed to be turned into a wholesale liquor facility, but the lease eventually fell through.  

Torres was elected in 2002 as a Democrat and was re-elected in 2006. He lost a re-election bid in 2010 but won the office again in 2014, running as an independent.

He will be replaced by City Council President Ruby Cotton until the May 2018 election.

Torres will be sentenced on Nov. 3.

Read the press release from the Office of the Attorney General HERE.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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