Barred From Office, Former Mayor Took 'Indictable' Step

Jose Torres allegedly flouted state order in launching 2022 mayoral bid in New Jersey
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 28, 2023 12:00 PM CDT
Barred From Office, Former Mayor Took 'Indictable' Step
Former Paterson Mayor Jose "Joey" Torres wipes tears from his eyes during his sentencing hearing on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, in Jersey City, NJ.   (Tariq Zehawi/The Record via AP, Pool)

A former New Jersey mayor barred from office as part of a corruption conviction has been indicted yet again for allegedly trying to circumvent that ban. A Trenton grand jury returned an indictment Tuesday, charging former Paterson Mayor Jose "Joey" Torres with criminal contempt, per the Daily Voice. Back in 2017, the 64-year-old admitted to having public employees work at a private liquor distribution warehouse leased by his daughter, with overtime pay covered by city taxpayers, according to a release from New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin. Torres was sentenced to five years in state prison as part of a plea deal, which required him to admit to conspiracy to commit official misconduct and sign a court order stating he would never again seek public employment in New Jersey.

Released after 13 months, Torres initially led a quiet life. Then in early 2022, he announced he was again running for mayor of Paterson. And when the city clerk rejected nominating petitions in support of his candidacy, he filed a lawsuit, later thrown out. "It takes remarkable brashness to flout a state court order and then attempt to strong-arm the city clerk, via civil litigation, into allowing an impermissible campaign to proceed," Platkin says, per the Paterson Times. "According to the grand jury, it is also indictable."

Thomas Eicher, executive director of the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability, which investigated the case, says Torres' alleged disregard for the rule of law "illustrates why he cannot, and should not, hold public office in the future." He faces up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted. (More New Jersey stories.)

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