In a stunning move sure to surprise many political observers, West New York Mayor Felix Roque took the stand during his commercial bribery trial yesterday.
Under questioning from his co-counsel, John MacDonald, Roque said right off the bat that he never took any bribes and that he is not guilty in this case.
“Dr. Roque, did you accept any money from Rehan Zuberi for patient referrals?,” MacDonald asked.
“No I didn’t,” Roque quickly answered.
“Dr. Roque, did you sell your patients to Ray Zuberi for a referral fee?,” MacDonald inquired.
“No I didn’t,” Roque said again.
“Dr. Roque, what is your plea in this indictment?,” MacDonald continued.
“Not guilty,” Roque answered.
After a long discussion about his military, schooling and political history, Roque said large cash deposits previously explained by lead case investigator Anthony Correll were due to co-payments from patients who do not have insurance, as well as tenants without checking accounts who pay rent via cash.
Furthermore, Roque said that during six months in 2008 where he was allegedly paid cash bribes by Zuberi couldnâ€™t have possibly happened since he was on active duty in Texas during those dates.
“What is exhibit 46? Don’t read it to us, just tell us what it is in general,” MacDonald said to Roque.
“It’s a travel order,” Roque responded.
“From who?,” MacDonald asked.
“The United State Army,” Roque, a retired U.S. Army Colonel, stated.
Roque went on to say that the order was issued in April 2008, ordering him to do a 179-day stay at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.
Under more direct examination from MacDonald, Roque testified that Zuberi and other members of his organization did not try to bribe him during this stay, nor did any of them meet him in Texas during this time.
After Roque admitted to Medicaid Fraud Control Unit Chief Deputy Attorney General Peter Sepulveda that he knew Zuberi, Jose Lopez and Judith DeLeon, simply as business contacts, Sepulveda questioned why he would send patients to Hackensack when many Hudson County MRI centers were available.
Roque had previously testified that he recommended American Imaging to patients since it was a â€œworld class facility.â€
In testimony that lasted all of 10 minutes collectively, Ruth Parente, Maria Rios and Alex Pino, all patients of Roque, said under oath that they were satisfied with the care Roque provided them.
They also all seemed to be in agreement that he never pressured them to go to American Imaging, or anywhere else, for MRIs.
Many local officials were in attendance for Roque’s first appearance on the stand, including Commissioners Cosmo Cirillo and Gabriel Rodriguez, Freeholder Caridad Rodriguez (D-7), Roque’s Chief of Staff/BOE Trustee Jonathan Castaneda, Police Director Robert Antolos and DPW Superintendent/Outgoing BOE Trustee Silvio Acosta.
Court will reconvene on Tuesday at 9 a.m.
I find fascinating the silence from all the usual WNY political pundits on this site with all the reporting the past two weeks on this trial.
Roque’a best quality is his ability to lie and look you right in the eye. I guess that is what makes him a good politician. He may get away with this one again. If his son was there he would have him take the hit. Everyone knows he just sits there and gives shots and collects his insurance money. Not to mention the political meetings he has at his medical office that get charged to insurance. His day will come karma is funny that way.
I hope you are right about karma, and I hope it happens sooner rather than later, but, based on these HCV reports, it appears very possible that he might beat this rap too.
I think the only way you can put the words “Roque” and “class” in the same sentence is to call him a world class liar. That’s the only thing he’s good at — well,, that and enriching himself, cheating, flouting the law, promoting his crooked cronies, portraying himself as a great military hero and life saving doctor, getting vengeance on anyone who crosses him, lots of other things and none of them good.
I agree with everything you said. It’s pathetic how people still think he’s a good guy. He’s a world class p.o.s. just like his boys Acosta and vargas. Throw Clara Herrera in that group also. They are all the same.
Has anyone from the Ags office matched the money deposited to Roques tax returns?
Has the Ags office subpoenad the leases from those ” cash paying tenants “?
Have his tenants been interviewed to coobarate the “cash rent payments”?
Follow the MONEY!!!!!!!!!
How does he live in Guttenberg and is still the Mayor. Follow The bank deposits to his wife and that’s a whole another investigation. Where are all of Roque friends these days the people who are making millions of dollars off of city hall. Follow the money
I don’t have much faith in anyone who works for the government in NJ – I mean, just look at the one who’s in charge. And now these legislators who are voting to let him write a book while he’s in office, on our tax dollars, after he spent the last two years running for president and then being DT’s puppy dog and not doing his job. This state is corrupt through and through.
So, it wouldn’t surprise me if the AG’s office is corrupt or incompetent or both.
Whoever these prosecutors are, from some of the reports by HCV, they don’t appear to be doing a bang up job. All the stupid witnesses who couldn’t remember things, couldn’t even estimate. Even if they’re telling the truth, that doesn’t look good.