A Democratic mayor in New Jersey that is closely aligned with Gov. Chris Christie (R) has been taken into custody for allegedly hacking into email accounts and a website of groups leading an effort to force him out of office.
West New York Mayor Felix Roque and his son, Joseph Roque, were arrested by FBI agents early Thursday morning, according to The Star-Ledger.
“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,” U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said in a statement. “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 a criminal complaint, Roque and his son schemed to take down the website www.recallroque.com, which aimed to advance a recall effort against him. After hacking into administrative email accounts, Joseph Roque allegedly disabled the site. The mayor is accused of then intimidating members of the recall group.
The complaint said that Roque threatened an organizer by saying he had “highly placed government officials and that everyone would pay for getting involved against Mayor Roque.”
While the New Jersey Democrat did not mention Christie by name, the governor had publicly embraced Roque last year after he endorsed Republican Joe Kyrillos over Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez. At one point, Christie traveled to West New York in support of Roque as Democrats became outraged over the endorsement.
In 2011, Christie had presided over the mayor’s swearing in ceremony after Rogue won an upset election in the small town.
“This is like a dream come true to have the governor — the governor, ladies and gentleman, of New Jersey! — here with us in West New York,” Roque exclaimed at the event.
Roque and his son both face up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.
Photo: New Jersey Governor’s Office