Last Thursday, FBI arrested New Jersey mayor Felix Roque and his son Joseph Roque on suspicion of hacking into a website of political foes who were seeking the Mayor’s recall. If the charge is proved, both the son and the father have to pay a long-term visit to prison that may extend up to 11 years, and have to pay fines up to $750,000.
The FBI accused 55 year old ‘Felix Roque’, mayor of West New York, New Jersey, and his 22 year old college goer son ‘Joseph Roque’ of illegally trying to cancel the domain name registration of recallroque.com. The website www.recallroque.com was created in early February this year by an anonymous public official who lives in Hudson County, New Jersey. This anonymous public official was referred to in court documents as “Victim 1”. The site was specially created for those people who wanted Mayor Roque to be taken out of office in a recall election earlier this year. The recall campaign website was hosted by GoDaddy.com.
The question is, how a politician and his son got involved in this cyber crime as none of them were hackers! Well, that’s a very interesting story. Mayor Roque’s 22 year old son Joseph Roque was the mastermind behind the hack. Mayor Roque obtained the information about the recallroque.com website’s owner via a friend at the CIA. According to a criminal complaint and court documents, Joseph Roque first e-mailed the recall site’s owner to arrange an in-person meeting. But that in-person meeting didn’t happen. Having no other way, Joseph used Google in search for “hacking a GoDaddy Site”, “recallroque log-in” and “html hacking tutorial”. After learning “how to hack email accounts and GoDaddy.com”, Joseph Roque successfully hacked into various online accounts by the late afternoon on February 8 which were used in connection with the recall website. Joseph disabled the websites and redirected the traffic to Weebly, a service provider located in California.
It was also mentioned in the court documents that after hacking the website, Joseph called all the person who were involved in the website and told them that “everyone would pay for getting involved against Mayor Roque”.
FBI special agent Ignace Ertilus said, “If mayor’s son Joseph did something wrong, he (Joseph) should go to jail, and if Mayor Roque himself did something wrong he (Mayor Roque) should go to jail as well”. Mayor Roque told law enforcement personnel during a March 2012 interview that he and his son had nothing to do with any hacking attacks. But according to Victim 1, Mayor Roque stated that “everyone would pay for getting involved against him.”
Mayor Roque mentioned that he would be fine if he had to go to jail because he was set financially and had ‘lived the dream,’ and would not have a problem with serving time in jail because he would work and read while there.
Though the mayor and his son were being charged with hacking into third party websites and were arrested last week, they have been set free on bail at $200,000. Both the Roque have to come back in court for a preliminary hearing on June 4.
After all this, will Mayor Felix Roque will be able to retain his position or he has to quit or will be eradicated from his elected term before it expires on April 30, 2014? In addition, a town public affairs official who was caught by phone said that she had no comment on the matter. On the other side, the mayor’s office didn’t return a phone call requesting comment.
We have to wait till June 4 to know what happens to both Roques. Till then, stay tuned. If you have something to say about this matter, there’s a box for you to write down your comment.