Deputy Attorney General Crystal Callahan and co-counsel for West New York Mayor Felix Roque, Chris Adams, expectedly had different takes about the bribery claims made by Humara Paracha, the wife of Rehan Zuberi.
Back in May 2015, Paracha, the former president of American Imaging, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery in relation to the organization’s years-long bribery and kickback scheme.
Under her plea agreement, she received probation, and along with Zuberi, must pay a cumulative $1 million fine.
Under direct examination from Deputy Attorney General Crystal Callahan, Paracha said she drove her husband to Roque’s office to pay him bribes on two occasions, later adding that they bought $5,000 tables at a handful of Roque’s fundraisers as the result of pressure from the mayor.
“Did defendant Roque receive anything from your organization besides cash?,” asked Callahan.
“He used to receive donations, for tables. I remember one time we had a $5,000 table, where we knew people went from the office. It was consistently [sic] to get tables for his fundraisers or donations and stuff like that,” Paracha said.
When asked why she would contribute to Roque when she didn’t live or own a business in West New York, she said it was because the mayor “insisted,” a subject that led to many fights between Paracha and her husband.
Needless to say, Chris Adams, co-counsel for Roque in the case, wasn’t buying it and Paracha was unable to recall any details about the alleged bribes or political contributions while under cross-examination.
“What dates did you drive your husband?,” Adam questioned.
“I don’t remember … it was whenever he said ‘I need a ride.’ I don’t remember,” Paracha answered.
“Just what dates?,” Adams pressured.
“I don’t remember,” Paracha said.
“What was the date of this political contribution you talked about, you said $5,000 table? What was the date?,” Adams continued.
“I don’t remember the date,” Paracha responded.
Along the same line of questioning, Adams asked if she had seen a receipt of the contribution or discussed it with any members of the attorney general’s office leading up to the trial, to which Paracha maintained she didn’t recall – though she admitted she had not made many $5,000 contributions in her life.
Adams also pointed out that despite multiple interviews with law enforcement, Paracha only mentioned Roque’s name once, implying that she simply implicated the mayor in hopes of receiving a lighter sentence.
He also claimed that she didn’t implicate any doctors until her husband received his plea agreement.
Under re-direct from Callahan, Paracha said she personally knew about 25 to 30 doctors that participated in their bribery scheme over a seven or eight year time frame.
She then further explaining that her plea agreement called for her to name all of the doctors, which included Roque, in subsequent interviews with the AG’s office.
Abed Syed and Julio Deza, who both previously worked for American Imaging, testified that they helped facilitate bribes for the organization, but they only appeared on the stand for about 15 minutes each.
Paracha’s testimony concluded on Thursday and court reconvenes Tuesday at 9 a.m.