The state attorney general’s office grilled West New York Mayor Felix Roque over bank deposits, text messages and his 2008 military service before he left the stand in his commercial bribery trial on Tuesday.
“And this is a check for rent from your company, to you, right? Your company paid rent to you because you own the building?,” Medicaid Fraud Control Unit Chief Deputy Attorney General Peter Sepulveda asked Roque regarding an exhibit of a $7,000 check from February 28, 2013.
“Yes sir,” Roque answered succinctly, with the two having a nearly identical exchange over another $7,000 check dated April 2, 2013.
Sepulveda’s point was that although both bank deposits were referred to as cash, neither were listed in the state’s exhibits of nearly $150,000 in cash deposits by Roque between September 16, 2010 and July 26, 2013.
While under direct examination from his co-counsel, John MacDonald, on Thursday, Roque flatly denied that he ever took any bribes from Rehan Zuberi – the state’s key witness in the case.
Sepulveda also brought up a number of text exchanges between Zuberi and Roque, particularly several conversations about Zuberi considering opening mammography and surgery centers in Hudson County – as well as another about the center being late on sending MRI reports.
“After you texted him on the 10th, trying to get in contact with him, he ignores you, you text him the next day about it – while your having problems with the reports – and he ignores you again?,” he asked.
“I believe so, yes sir,” Roque stated.
“And yet, you still have them [American Imaging] on the list for people to go to [sic] MRIs until 2013 – two years later?,” Sepulveda continued.
“He still had the best radiologist working there sir and I wanted to have the best for my patients,” Roque responded before being cut off.
“Is that a yes? That’s a yes, right? That you still had them on the list to go until 2013?”
“If the list was there, I don’t particularly remember dealing with the list. I do know that I deal with medical issues, I’m a doctor, I have secretarial people handle everything as far as coordinating appointments,” Roque explained.
Again pressed if “that was a long way of saying yes,” he responded “that’s a long way of saying I’m a doctor and I deal with patient care.”
Sepulveda and Roque also discussed giving free tickets to Zuberi for a February 2013 fundraiser, which the defendant said were distributed by his campaign committee.
According to the state, 17 of Roque’s patients went to American Imaging for MRIs the month prior, compared to just one in February 2013.
Roque further stated that he stopped recommending patients to American Imaging when his radiologist of choice left the center.
Sepulveda also tore into Roque for testifying that he was on military leave for almost the entirety of a 179-day order, given that he had really only served about half of that and returned home on three separate weekends.
On a brief redirect examination, Roque reiterated that he had only met Zuberi face-to-face on three occasions and that he only left Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas after receiving proper military clearance.
Closing arguments are underway this afternoon before the case is left in the hands of the jury.