Those in West New York hoping for a courtroom rematch between former Freeholder Jose Munoz and Mayor Felix Roque are going to be sorely disappointed now that the town has settled their superior court lawsuit.
The settlement was unanimously approved (4-0), with no public inquiries on the matter, at the January 20th board of commissioners meeting – where Roque was absent.
The board went to a closed session to discuss legal matters including Munoz vs. Felix Roque, Joseph Roque and the Town of West New York.
According to the settlement, the town and its employees admit to no wrongdoing or liability in relation to the suit.
Filed back in February 2014, Munoz, through his North Bergen attorney Louis Zayas, alleges that his freedom of speech was violated and that he was also a victim of political retaliation for supporting Roque’s predecessor – Sal Vega – in 2011.
Specifically, the suit claims that in 2012, Roque, then-Deputy Mayor Silvio Acosta and then-Town Attorney Gilberto Garcia asked Munoz to get involved in political firings and wanted influence over how he voted on the freeholder board.
By Mid-2013, Munoz believed the situation had gotten worse, claiming that Roque had orchestrated “a false investigation” of his mother’s home conducted by the West New York Health Department and also playing a role in his county vehicle being damaged while he was on vacation.
The second half of the lawsuit focuses on Roque’s federal hacking case, where his son Joseph faced nearly identical charges.
Munoz was the key witness in the trial, testifying that he operated the website recallroque.com, a blog that was critical of Roque and his administration, under the pseudonym of Maria Pascuale out of fear of political retaliation.
The ex-official cooperated with the FBI prior to the Roques being charged in the matter.
Mayor Roque was acquitted of all charges by a federal grand jury in October 2013, while Joseph Roque was sentenced to one year of probation for computer hacking.
Zayas largely declined to discuss the settlement, simply telling Hudson County View “I’m glad this matter was settled amicably.”
A West New York spokeswoman did not immediately provide a comment on the situation and the amount of the settlement was not stated in the resolution passed by the town.
A copy of the lawsuit and approved resolution can be read here.