Felix Rogue and His Son Were Arrested for Hacking and Disabling a Website That Criticized the West New York Mayor
The mayor of West New York, New Jersey and his son were arrested on Thursday for allegedly hacking into an e-mail account and website connected to an effort to recall the mayor, and harassing those behind the recall effort.
FBI agents in Newark conducted an investigation that led to the arrest of Mayor Felix Roque and his 22-year old son, Joseph Roque, and charged the two 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.”
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the compliant alleges that in early February 2012, a Hudson County resident and public official anonymously established and moderated the website www.recallroque.com, to post commentary and criticism of Mayor Roque and his staff.
Unhappy with the site, the compliant further alleges that in February 2012, the Mayor, 55, and his son attempted to hack into and take down the website and to "identify, intimidate, and harass those who operated and were associated with the site."
Shortly after their decision to attack the website, Joseph Roque had successfully hacked into various online accounts used in connection with the recall website. Joseph Roque then used that access to disable the website. Following the successful breach, Mayor Roque harassed and attempted to intimidate several individuals whom he had learned were associated with the recall website, the U.S. Attorney’s Office says.
According to reports from local news outlet CBS 2, an ambulance was called when Roque's ex-wife passed out in the courtroom during the initial appearance, and then got up saying “that’s my son.”
Gerald Lange, who lost the West New York mayoral election to Felix Roque, reportedly came to court to stare him in the eye, according to CBS 2’s Christine Sloan. “Coming from a man who called me ‘pretty boy commissioner’ and to see him in shackles is pretty sad, and to put his son through it and bring his son down like him that is a sad testament for a father to face,” Lange told CBS 2.
“It’s incredibly disappointing that resources have to be diverted from protecting the U.S. against cyber intrusions targeting critical infrastructure, federally funded research, and military technology to address a public official intruding into computer systems to further a political agenda,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward.
The conspiracy charge and hacking charges are each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of causing damage to protected computers carries a maximum potential penalty of one year in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.