Mayor of New Jersey town arrested on hacking and conspiracy charges

West New York mayor Felix Roque and his son are accused of hacking into a website that promoted his recalling from office

The mayor of West New York, New Jersey, was arrested together with his son on Thursday, for allegedly hacking into a website that criticized him and his administration.

Felix Roque, 55, of Hudson County, and Joseph Roque, 22, of Passaic County, were charged with gaining unauthorized access to computer systems, causing damage to protected computers and conspiracy to commit those crimes, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey said on Thursday.

According to the criminal complaint filed against Felix Roque and his son, on Feb. 6, 2012, the two men began to conspire to hack into and disable a website called

The website had been set up anonymously by a Hudson County resident and government official earlier that month and had received contributions from a number of people, identified in the complaint as victims.

For the next two days, Joseph Roque allegedly researched hacking tutorials online and attempted to learn the identity of the website's owner by sending him messages and posing as a person interested in contributing to the website.

On Feb. 8, Joseph Roque managed to reset the password for the email account associated with the domain name and took screenshots of the email messages found inside, an FBI agent who investigated the case said in a sworn affidavit. Some of the messages exposed the identities of people who had sent information to the website, he said.

Joseph Roque then allegedly performed a password reset for the Go Daddy account used to administer This allowed him to cancel the domain name and effectively disable the website, the FBI agent said in the affidavit.

Over the course of the following days, Mayor Roque allegedly used the information gathered by his son to call or email the website's contributors with the intention of intimidating them.

During a meeting with the website's owner on Feb. 17, which was being recorded by the latter at the request of law enforcement, Mayor Roque attempted to conceal the hacking activity by suggesting that he had a friend at the CIA who provided him with the information.

"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, who led the FBI team that investigated this case, said.

The conspiracy and unauthorized computer access charges each carry a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to US$250,000. The charge of causing damage to protected computers is punishable by one year in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Ironically, even though he now stands charged with hacking into a website that was trying to organize a petition to recall him from office, Felix Roque has lead a recall effort himself in 2009 against the former West New York mayor, Silverio Vega.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Lucian Constantin

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts