Indictment follows a 2017 court order barring Torres from holding or seeking public office; Grand jury's "true bill" adds a new charge of criminal contempt.
PATERSON, N.J. — Former Paterson Mayor Jose "Joey" Torres, 64, faces a new criminal contempt charge following his alleged attempt to re-enter the mayoral race for the 2022 election. The indictment comes despite a 2017 court order that permanently bans him from holding or pursuing public office.
A state grand jury in Trenton concluded its deliberations on September 26, 2023, indicting Torres with a new charge of criminal contempt (4th degree). This comes after his 2017 guilty plea to a second-degree charge of conspiracy to commit official misconduct, which led to a five-year prison sentence.
The indictment is based on Torres' actions earlier this year. Despite the ban, Torres allegedly made a public speech on February 12, 2022, announcing his mayoral candidacy and subsequently filed a stack of nominating petitions at the Paterson City Clerk's Office. The clerk rejected the petitions, but Torres filed a civil action to compel their acceptance.
Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin called the violation a display of "remarkable brashness," adding, "That is bold. And, according to the grand jury, it is also indictable." OPIA Executive Director Thomas Eicher stated that Torres' alleged disregard for the order underscores why he cannot and should not hold public office in the future.
The case is being prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General Brian Kenney, under the supervision of OPIA Corruption Bureau Deputy Chief Jeffrey Manis, Bureau Chief Peter Lee, and OPIA Deputy Director Anthony Picione. A 4th-degree crime carries a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Torres' actions have drawn attention not just in Paterson but throughout New Jersey, including Morris County, as a significant legal development involving a former public official's alleged blatant disregard for the law. The indictment serves as a notable reminder of the legal and ethical standards expected of public officeholders.