Christopher Adams, co-counsel for West New York Mayor Felix Roque in his commercial bribery case, grilled key government witness Rehan Zuberi this afternoon regarding texts allegedly soliciting bribes.
Roque, who was indicted in June 2015, is accused of accepting $250,000 in cash bribes between 2007 and 2012 and the allegations were corroborated today by the government’s key witness: Rehan Zuberi.
However, Zuberi has previously served jail time and awaits sentencing on bribery and money laundering charges – which could land him in state prison for up to 10 years, depending on the extent of his cooperation with the government.
On the stand, Zuberi said that he bribed Roque twice inside the mayor’s office, later claiming that Roque messaged him covertly when an illegal payment was overdue.
Recalling a July 6, 2011 text exchange where Roque asked Zuberi to give him a call, which he took to believe it was time for him to pay him a bribe.
Zuberi recalled two nearly identical exchanges on October 8 and October 11, both in 2011, though this time he said he “wants to talk.” Again, the witness took this to believe it was time to pay Roque a bribe.
“Did you have any other purpose for visiting, or arranging to visit, defendant Roque on October the 11th, 2011?,” Medicaid Fraud Control Unit Chief Deputy Attorney General Peter Sepulveda asked Zuberi.
“No I didn’t,” he promptly responded.
Christopher Adams, co-counsel for Roque in this matter, argued that there were plenty of instances when Zuberi communicated with his client for business purposes, such as when Zuberi was considering opening an mammography center in West New York.
“Well didn’t you tell the jury, on direct, that the only time, I think the question was ‘did you use any code with Dr. Roque’ and the code was ‘call me, right?,” Adams inquired.
“Yes,” said Zuberi.
“And call me had no other reason but for you to show up and make these payments, you call them bribes, right?,” Adams continued.
“Most of the time yes,” responded Zuberi.
“You didn’t say most of the time to the jury, did you? You said that’s the only reason, right?,” Adams pressed on.
“Yes,” Zuberi admitted.
Zuberi will continue to be cross-examined tomorrow when court reconvenes at 9 a.m.