The feds this morning charged Mayor Felix Roque and his son with computer hacking.
The Roques’ arrests stemmed form their efforts to try to push back against a web-based effort to have Mayor Roque recalled.
According to a criminal complaint filed today, the mayor’s son, Joseph, on Feb. 8 accessed the account of westnewyorknews@[provider1.com] without authorization.
Joseph Roque also allegedly accessed the victim’s account at Go Daddy and cancelled the internet domain account http://www.recallroque.com.
That same night, law enforcement authorities say Roque called a person he identified as in part responsible for posting on the recallroque site and intimidated him. He also called a second person and infomed him that he had disabled the website, according to the complaint.
The complaint alleges other instances in which the mayor directed his son to illegally obtain information about web plotting political enemies.
U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said Roque, 55, and Joseph Roque, 22, of Passaic County, are charged by Complaint with gaining unauthorized access to computers in furtherance of causing damage to protected computers; causing damage to protected computers; and conspiracy tocommit those crimes.
Felix and Joseph Roque are scheduled to appear this afternoon before U.S.Magistrate Judge Mark S. Falk in Newark federal court.
“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. “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.”
According to the criminal Complaint unsealed today: “In early February 2012, a Hudson County resident and public official anonymously established and moderated an Internet website, http://www.recallroque.com, to post commentary and criticism of Mayor Felix Roque and his administration.
“On Feb. 6, 2012, Mayor Roque and his son, Joseph Roque, schemed to hack into and take down the website and to identify, intimidate and harass those who operated and were associated with the website. By the late afternoon of February 8, 2012, 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. Mayor Roque harassed and attempted to intimidate several individuals whom he had learned were associated with the recall website.”
The conspiracy charge and the charge of gaining unauthorized access to a computer in furtherance of causing damage to protected computers 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.