WEST NEW YORK, NEW JERSEY – A New Jersey mayor and his son were arrested Thursday by the FBI for allegedly hacking into an email account and website tied to a recall effort — and then intimidating those associated with the site.
Felix Roque, 55, the Democratic mayor of West New York, N.J., and his son Joseph, 22, allegedly accessed and cancelled the domain registration for Recallroque.com, a website that was critical of the mayor and associated with a movement to recall him in early February.
Joseph Roque learned how to hack email accounts and GoDaddy.com, a domain registration company, by searching the Internet, according to a criminal complaint unsealed after the arrests.
After RecallRoque.com was taken down, the criminal complaint says, Roque placed a telephone call to the proprietor of the website — “Victim 1,” a government official in Hudson County, N.J. — to say that the page had been taken down by “high government officials and that everyone would pay for getting involved against Mayor Roque.”
Roque also allegedly tried to intimidate those involved with the website, telling “Victim 1” that he had a friend on the CIA: “A friend of mine. he works in the — I can’t tell you — three letters — CIA. You know. That’s how I get information. So what I’m doing is not very kosher.”
The announcement of the arrests was made by U.S. Attorney for the district of New Jersey, Paul J. Fishman.
“In this case, 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,” Fishman said.
The Roques are charged with gaining unauthorized access to computers in furtherance of causing damage to protected computers; causing damage to protected computers; and conspiracy to commit those crimes. (Go Daddy contends that their security systems were not breached, but instead that the recall website was brought down due to unauthorized access of the email address associated with the domain registration account.)
Felix and Joseph Roque are scheduled to appear in federal court Thursday.
The town of West New York has a population of less than 50,000.