In a letter to President Donald Trump (R), West New York Mayor Felix Roque is asking for the key cooperating witness from his bribery trial, where he was found not guilty, to be deported back to Pakistan.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“As Mayor and a retired Colonel that served in our armed services for 36 years in the U.S. Army Reserves I agree with you [sic] immigration policy that calls for the deportation of convicted criminals,” Roque said in a September 4th letter to Trump, cc’ed to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“However, I have seen instances in my own State of New Jersey where immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes on multiple occasions are given a free pass to remain in our great country simply because they have cut a deal with the NJ Attorney General’s office [sic] to testify for the government in order to save their skin and avoid deportation.”
Yesterday, the state AG’s office announced that Rehan “Ray” Zuberi, 48, of Boonton, was sentenced to eight years in state prison, including two years and eight months parole ineligibility and a $1 million restitution fee.
Zuberi was dubbed by authorities as the mastermind behind a multi-million dollar medical kickback ring in North Jersey, testifying in several related trials in hopes of receiving immunity from the state.
Ultimately, six of the defendants linked to Zuberi’s criminal enterprise were either sentenced to probation or entered the Pre-Trial Intervention program, the state AG’s office said in a news release.
This was not Zuberi’s first run in with the law, nor was the pattern of behavior completely new: he served 10 months in state prison in 1999 for another medical bribery scheme, as one of Roque’s criminal defense attorneys, Chris Adams, noted during their 2016 trial.
Roque had been accused of being involved in Zuberi’s more recent bribery scheme, getting indicted in July 2015 for allegedly receiving $250,000 in kickbacks for recommending patients to Zuberi’s medical imaging facilities.
However, Zuberi’s testimony where he made claims such as bribing Roque as the mayor’s office on two instances didn’t seem to have much of an impact on the jury, as the vast majority of the witnesses had a criminal history and no hard photographic, audio or video evidence was produced during the trial.
Roque was ultimately acquitted of commercial bribery on December 21, 2016.
A pain management specialist by trade, Roque obviously hasn’t forgotten what Zuberi put him through and he asks Trump outright to deport him, drawing a parallel regarding the whirlwind of controversy surrounding the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals program.
“Mr. President, I ask you to be consistent in your policies and insist that this criminal be deported and not be permitted to remain in the United States after he completes his custodial sentence,” Roque requested.
“I believe that to enact a policy, which punishes law abiding young immigrants who up to now have everything that the law has asked them to do (immigrants who are DACA have registered, paid their taxes and have been otherwise model citizens), while at the same time rewarding criminals who have thumbed their nose at our criminal justice system is inconsistent, erratic and immoral.”
Roque also requests that Sessions look into the matter further “to avoid this travesty of justice.”
In a statement, New Jersey Attorney General Christopher Porrino praised Morris County Superior Court Judge Salem Vincent Ahto’s sentence of Zuberi.
“Rehan Zuberi was the mastermind behind a criminal enterprise that treated patients like commodities to be bought and sold for profit,” said Porrino.
“This man made millions by conspiring with doctors to deprive patients of their right to honest services based on sound medical judgment. He will now serve a lengthy prison sentence befitting his leadership role in this appalling corruption of the medical profession.”