NEW YORK (Reuters) - The mayor of Paterson, New Jersey, resigned on Monday, a city official said, after the mayor pleaded guilty last week to a state criminal conspiracy charge that he ordered city employees to perform work at a warehouse leased by his family members.
Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres, 58, pleaded guilty on Friday in state superior court to second degree conspiracy as part of an agreement in which prosecutors will recommend a five-year prison sentence, state Attorney General Christopher Porrino said.
The plea agreement also required that Torres relinquish his office, never again hold a government job in New Jersey and repay Paterson $10,000 for the time city workers spent at the private warehouse.
“With this plea, Torres forfeits his position as mayor of New Jersey’s third-largest city, will never again be in a position to abuse the public’s trust, and will go to prison,” Porrino said. ”Our message is that this type of arrogant abuse of power and public resources will not be tolerated in New Jersey.”
With the resignation of Torres, City Council President Ruby Cotton becomes interim mayor, according to Paterson Corporation Counsel Domenick Stampone.
Prosecutors said Torres, a Democrat, ordered three city supervisors and their subordinates in the Public Works Department to work at a warehouse leased by a company called Quality Beer, which was formed by the mayor’s daughter and nephew. The supervisors were also indicted.
The municipal employees did painting, carpentry and other work at the warehouse during their regular hours for the city in 2014 and 2015, prosecutors said.
The mayor’s daughter and nephew ended up terminating their lease for the warehouse without ever using it after failing to obtain necessary permits, prosecutors added.
Reporting by Peter Szekely; Editing by David Gregorio