YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A federal grand jury in Newark today indicted West New York Mayor Felix Roque and his son on charges of hacking into the email account and taking down the website of a group of recall organizers
West New York Mayor Felix Roque
Roque, a 55-year-old doctor, ironically led a recall petition against former Mayor Sal Vega, and then beat him in an election.
Joseph Roque, 22, began the dirty tactics in February, obtaining the e-mail account of one of the recall organizers and then using it to hack into used the server hosted by Go Daddy, the indictment alleges .
He then changed the password for administrative access to www.recallroque.com and took the site down, federal agents said, after the two were arrested on May 24.
The next day, the mayor called one of the recall organizers and threatened him, saying he was aware the man worked on the site, a complaint filed in federal court in Newark says.
“A friend of mine. he works in the — I can’t tell you — three letters — CIA. You know. That’s how I get information,” FBI agents quote Roque as saying. “So what I’m doing is not very kosher.”
He also e-mailed a threat to another organizer to refer him to the IRS for a tax audit, the complaint says.
“It’s incredibly disappointing that resources have to be diverted from protecting the US 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,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward said.
The Roques are officially 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.”
“By the late afternoon of February 8, 2012, Joseph Roque had successfully hacked into various online accounts used in connection with the recall website,” the government wrote. “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.”
U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman credited special agents of the FBI with the investigation. Handling the case are Assistant U.S. Attorneys Erez Liebermann, chief of his Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Section, and Barbara Llanes of the Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.