Three more witnesses, two of which with a criminal history, with ties to Rehan Zuberi testified during Day 4 of West New York Mayor Felix Roque’s commercial bribery case.
In a day marred by delays, Ramon Urena, a former driver for Rehan Zuberi and American Imaging, was the first witness to take the stand during yesterday’s afternoon session.
Urena was supposed to take the stand in the morning, but the court decided to take an extended lunch to get a Spanish translator to handle his testimony after they he appeared unable to answer questions sufficiently in English.
Under direct examination from Deputy Attorney General Crystal Callahan, Urena testified that he dropped Zuberi off at Roqueâ€™s medical office on numerous occasions.
Chris Adams, co-counsel for Roque in the matter, said that it took four conversations with law enforcement before Urena mentioned Roqueâ€™s name, implying that he did such in order to help his sister.
Natividad Urena, the former manager of American Imaging in Union City, was arrested as part of Operation RayScam, but eventually got the charges dropped.
Ramon Urena, who wasnâ€™t charged with a crime, later said under oath his cooperation with the government was never supposed to be in exchange for a lighter sentence for his sister.
Natividad Urena was scheduled to testify during the morning portion of the court session. However, John MacDonald, also representing Roque in the matter, asked for her to be disqualified from taking the stand.
His reason was that a 45-minute video interview with law enforcement, recorded shortly after after she was arrested, cut off after just seven minutes in, making it insufficient evidence.
In a surprise move, Judge Christopher Kazlau agreed with the defense and Natividad Urena was deemed ineligible to testify.
Ata Chaudhry, the former owner of the Hudson Radiology Center of Bayonne, testified that Roque referred 105 patients to his facility in 2010, but that number abruptly dropped to zero after Chaudhry had a falling out with Zuberi in the latter part of the same year.
However, MacDonald, said the whole story of Chaudhry, who pleaded guilty to charges including money laundering and bribery in September, since the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners was investigating him back in 2010.
The court session concluded with short testimony from Raza Chudry, another former driver for Zuberi who previously served jail time for healthcare fraud.
He admitted that he delivered manila envelopes to Roque, but ultimately said he thought he was delivering radiology reports and never actually checked to see what was inside the envelopes.
The court did not convene today but will be back in session tomorrow at 9 a.m.