NJ mayor and son arrested for hacking site criticising their administration

Filed Under: Data loss, Featured, Law & order, Vulnerability

Felix RoqueThe FBI arrested a New Jersey town mayor on Thursday for allegedly hacking into a site that criticized his administration and intimidating individuals associated with it.

Felix Roque, 55, the mayor of West New York, N.J., was arrested with his son, Joseph Roque, 22. They were released on $100,000 personal bond after neither entered a plea.

Both men were charged with attacking the www.recallroque.com site (it's down now), which published commentary and criticism of Roque and his administration.

A third, unnamed public official was mentioned in a sworn affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Ignace Ertilus.

The recall site was originally put up and moderated by an anonymous Hudson County resident and public official.

The mayor and his son allegedly began their scheme to hack into the site and intimidate its operators and participants starting on 6 February.

Over the next two days, Joseph Roque allegedly posed as an interested contributor so as to send messages to the site owner and learn his identity.

Meeting with a lack of success in this subtle approach, Roque the Younger then allegedly took this direct approach instead: he Googled terms including "hacking a Go Daddy site," "html hacking tutorial," "how to hack a [Provider's name] password," and "how to hack a [Provider's name] account."

Here's how the alleged hacking then went down, according to the FBI affidavit:

On 8 February, Roque the Younger managed to reset the password for the email account associated with the site's domain name and to cancel that domain name.

While he was in the account, he allegedly snapped a bunch of screenshots of emails from contributors, some of which gave away the contributors' identities.

Later that night, the mayor allegedly called one of the site's contributors and told him he knew about his involvement with the site.

The next day, the mayor allegedly called another site contributor to tell him that the site had been kicked offline by "highly placed government officials" and that "everyone would pay" for getting involved with the recall push.

A couple hours later, the mayor then allegedly wrote to "Victim 5" and threatened to sic the Internal Revenue Service, along with a nice tax audit, on him or her.

By Feb. 17, the mayor allegedly began to boast that all this hacking magic was being enabled by a CIA buddy.

The mayor's alleged wording:

"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."

By this time, the law was listening in, the FBI says.

The two are charged with conspiracy and with gaining unauthorized access to a computer in furtherance of causing damage to protected computers. Each charge carries a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

They were also charged with causing damage to protected computers, which can lead to one year in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

According to the FBI, Mayor Roque told them that he'd be OK with going to jail, since he was doing pretty OK financially, had "lived the dream," and could always work out and read if/while he was in the pokey.

If Felix and/or Joseph Roque wind up in jail, I recommend Zumba. It's a fun way to stay in shape.

I also recommend that they read Naked Security's recent piece on cracking passwords.

Gee, come to think of it, if the allegations are true, I guess they don't really need much help at that.

But perhaps their political foes—or anybody who wants to stay anonymous while exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech and unhampered criticism of those in power—might want to read it.

They seem to need help with creating stronger passwords.

Felix Roque headshot courtesy of Facebook.
Scandal image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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22 Responses to NJ mayor and son arrested for hacking site criticising their administration

  1. Antony · 877 days ago

    "Later that night, the mayor allegedly called one of the site's contributors and told him hat he knew about his involvement with the site."

    Spot the spelling mistake :)

  2. Lon · 876 days ago

    Politicians, lawyers, and car salesmen... Hard for me to decide which is the lower life form...;-(

    • Brennan · 876 days ago

      Are they really a lower life form, or are they just trying to make a living?

      • Rocco Rizzo · 875 days ago

        Are they trying to make a living, or a KILLING?
        That's the REAL problem, too many people are getting too greedy.

        • ChrisD · 875 days ago

          Lawyers win hands down. The very title of their professions suggests such things as truth, honesty, fact, and justice are integral to their work and everything that they do... and creates an expectation that such things are paramount. But in reality all four are the very last thing the profession actually concerns itself with, and regularly goes to great lengths to actively avoid all four.

    • miniapplejack · 876 days ago

      Usually the first two go hand in hand, although we have the third type going into politics around here as well.

    • Vito · 876 days ago

      That's easy...politicians. Car salesmen have some practical utility, and a competent lawyer can be useful if you need one. But politicians — even the best of them — only cause harm. Power corrupts. Always.

    • John · 876 days ago

      Lawyers who become politicians...?

  3. Dan · 876 days ago

    Unfortunately the mayor has made it pretty clear that he doesn't care if he goes to jail. In other words, it isn't much of a punishment to him. I cannot help but wonder if this is the attitude of many of the people who go about breaking into secure sites, writing viruses, and the like.

  4. Cat · 876 days ago

    Scummy guy with delusions of grandeur! CIA? C'mon! I guess the folks who created the website have now been validated!

  5. Freida Gray · 876 days ago

    I wonder if the mayor realized just how close he actually came to telling the truth when he said what he was doing wasn't kosher.

  6. njorl · 876 days ago

    Hudson County? Sounds more like Hazzard County.

  7. Mike · 876 days ago

    password1

  8. Gerry · 876 days ago

    If he were a Republican, that fact would be part of every headline, but since he's a Democrat, nobody seems to think that's part of the story.

  9. Reckless · 876 days ago

    OOoh, they don't mention the party so you know he has to be a democrat. If he was republican it would be in the headline but since he is democrat they do not even consider it worth mentioning. And they are right. Democrats are crooks by default.

    • Sharp · 875 days ago

      If he was a republican he would have hired someone else to do it, to keep a good reputation with the people. Plus they would not be complaining about his administration.

      • Lisa Vaas · 875 days ago

        He's a Democrat. I didn't leave that out for any particular reason. His alleged actions are scummy regardless of party affiliation. Scumminess knows no limits to party affiliation.

  10. Sharp · 875 days ago

    Slap him with the biggest fine to drain his bank account, send him to jail for 7 years, and see what he thinks when he gets out with nothing but a bad reputation, where him and his son will be classified as Felons for the rest of their life. Bad administration is displayed here, when he decided to do it himself instead of hiring an outside 3rd party.

    I would further this by sending the FBI to research his political agenda, and I am sure there is more they could charge him with, since he does not like people talking about his administration team, I am sure there are other things he was doing illegally.

    The thing I find odd. Damage to a protected computer is 1 year and 250k fine, but accessing and damage to a protected computer is 5 years and 250k fine? Seems odd that litterally they are the same thing.

  11. Internaut · 874 days ago

    Just weighing in on this one and comments above.He is a politicians politician. A person's party affiliation has zero to do with their stupidity. This guy's action, if guilty, is an outright Internet Bully, and, he is just one of the many that got caught.

    What of those that are higher up in the anarchy who have the experts, an endless amount of public funds, and ability to hide behind "safety and protection of the public" to spy on the public?

    What about all the political chicanery that slipped through the nets and have not been caught, and not heard of?

    Politicians and their cohorts, when convicted of any crime, should have their sentence tripled.

  12. watchman dave · 821 days ago

    LOL...busted...weakness's all around in this one...and I thought new Jersey was the place they made that "Fake Salsa"! grin

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About the author

I've been writing about technology, careers, science and health since 1995. I rose to the lofty heights of Executive Editor for eWEEK, popped out with the 2008 crash, joined the freelancer economy, and am still writing for my beloved peeps at places like Sophos's Naked Security, CIO Mag, ComputerWorld, PC Mag, IT Expert Voice, Software Quality Connection, Time, and the US and British editions of HP's Input/Output. I respond to cash and spicy sites, so don't be shy.