Felix Roque, the Democratic mayor of West New York, N.J., and his 22-year-old son Joseph were arrested by the FBI last Thursday on suspicion of hacking into a website dedicated to having Roque recalled and intimidating the people who set it up. The father and son allegedly hacked the email account associated with the website, Recallroque.com in February, and then nixed the domain registration in an effort to muzzle an insurgent political campaign to oust the mayor.
Where did they get their hacking skills? The internet, apparently. “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,” reports Politico.
But the hacking was just the beginning. Roque allegedly called individuals involved in the website telling them that “everyone would pay for getting involved against Mayor Roque.” According to the complaint, he told “Victim 1,” a government official in Hudson County, N.J., that the site had been dismantled by “high government officials,” and that he had risked making powerful enemies: “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 U.S. Attorney for the district of New Jersey announced the arrests last Thursday, noting that “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.”
According to the Jersey Journal, the pair made a relaxed appearance in court last Thursday for a bail hearing, with the mayor clad in a white undershirt and black slacks, while his son sported sweatpants and a yankees t-shirt. The men could each face up to 11 years in prison and $600,000 in fines, according to the federal judge presiding over the Newark courtroom. The mayor’s ex-wife, Joseph’s mother, reportedly “flopped off the bench and fell face-first to the floor” during a fainting spell during the hearing. Bail was set at $100,000.