New Jersey mayor, son accused of hacking recall Web site

The mayor of West New York, N.J., is arrested along with his son and accused of hijacking a site supporting the mayor's recall.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read
Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

New Jersey is a complex place.

So complex that it even has a town called West New York. The mayor of that little town, Felix Roque, may well be a complex man himself.

For authorities are accusing him of becoming so upset by a movement to recall him that, together with his son, he allegedly took down the recall Web site.

No, he didn't turn up at the site owner's house with machetes and men with deep set eyes and obvious intentions. Instead, the FBI says Roque and his son Joseph sneaked their way illegally into RecallRoque.com.

The press release from the District Attorney's Office is not pretty.

It quotes U.S. Attorney Paul. J. Fishman as declaring: "In this case, 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."

I am grateful to Ars Technica for initially turning my eyes to this troubling tale of local politics, which is occurring just 7 miles west of Manhattan.

Joseph Roque allegedly performed Google searches using terms such as "hacking a Go Daddy Site" and "recallroque log-in" and the quite peculiar "html hacking tutorial."

From these humble beginnings, the younger Roque allegedly managed to re-set the e-mail password for the account that controlled the RecallRoque site. He then allegedly proceeded to cancel the domain name.

Oh, it only gets more painfully classical from there. For then, the elder Roque is said to have discovered the site was run by a government official -- who has been renamed Victim 1.

As the Government's papers put it: "Mayor Roque stated that he, the Mayor, had a friend in high levels of government who had shut the Recall Website down. According to Victim 1, Mayor Roque stated that everyone would pay for getting involved against him."

Indeed, the statement that the FBI is accusing him of contained these alleged words: "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."

Oh, we all pay in the end, one way or another. But these allegations are, indeed, painful in the extreme.

The Roques, who may not easily make a comeback if these charges are proved, appeared in court today, charged with three counts of intentionally accessing computers without authorization or intentionally causing damage to a protected computer.

I know that no one could possibly find humor in the fact that Roque himself took on the mayorship after reportedly creating a recall petition against the previous mayor, Sal Vega.

As we enter this weekend of memory, one thing worth remembering is that when you use electronic means for nefarious purposes, it is almost always the case that you leave footprints bigger than a Yeti.