Felix Roque, the Democratic Mayor of West New York, N.J., and son Joseph Roque have both been arrested on charges of hacking into a website and various emails in an effort to identify the parties plotting to rally against him.
According to various reports, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office confirmed the arrest and said Roque's son, Joseph, was also taken into custody.
Taken in to FBI custody in the early hours of May 25, Felix and Joseph Roque are charged with electronic hacking and attempting to sabotage a recall movement put on by West New York and Hudson County employees.
The complaint, while going into explicit detail, maps out how the two men intended to ensure their success by disrupting the efforts of their opponents defamatory statements, using BlackBerrys and iPhones, Facebook and Google.
Prosecutors said that in February, Mayor Felix Roque had encouraged his son to take down the Web site, which had been set up anonymously, according to The New York Times.
When Joseph Roque finally uncovered the identities of those responsible for creating the site, the mayor allegedly used his political clout to intimidate and punish the persons involved, including several public officials and a local media personality.
The elected leader of West New York and his son allegedly hacked into computers to intimidate constituents who were simply using the internet to exercise their Constitutional rights to criticize the government, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said in a statement. We will continue to investigate and prosecute those who illegally hack into computers and disable websites with the goal of suppressing the exercise of that right.
Mayor Roque even went as far as to tell one of the site's creators that everyone would pay, and threatened to refer another to the Internal Revenue Service for an audit, according to the criminal complaint, obtained by The Times.
A friend of mine, he works in the - I can't tell you - three letters: C.I.A., he told one, according to a conversation recorded by law enforcement officials. You know, that's how I get information. So, what I'm doing is not very kosher.
After having been arrested, Felix and Joseph Roque appeared, shackled at the hands and feet, in federal court in Newark, where a judge told them that they face up to 11 years in prison and $600,000 in fines. They were released on $100,000 bond each, according to The Times.
On May 10, 2011, Dr. Felix Roque defeated incumbent Mayor Silverio Vega and his team of Commissioners in a Mayoral Election. The win was seen as historic since Roque had ran his campaign independent of any political affiliation on what is normally considered an extremely safe Democratic area.