West New York Mayor Dr. Felix Roque was indicted for allegedly referring patients to the medical imaging company Diagnostic Imaging Affiliates in exchange for $250,000 in cash bribes and other kickbacks, Acting Attorney General John Jay Hoffman announced.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Roque, 59, of West New York, who also operates a Pain Relief Center medical practice in town, was indicted by a state grand jury on three charges: second-degree healthcare claims fraud, second-degree commercial bribery and third-degree running.
The indictment alleges that from 2007 to 2012, Roque participated in a scheme to refer patients needing MRI and CT scans to medical diagnostic imaging centers controlled by Rehan Zuberi in exchange for cash and election campaign contributions.
Zuberi allegedly delivered cash kickbacks to Roque on a monthly basis and made several payments to Roque at the mayor’s office in West New York Town Hall. Zuberi and his associates allegedly paid Roque approximately $250,000.
Zuberi, 46, of Boonton, pleaded guilty last month to charges that he led a criminal enterprise that paid several million dollars of bribes and kickbacks to dozens of doctors from 2008 to 2014. The plea agreement calls for Zuberi to receive a 10-year state prison sentence with a four-year non-parole eligibility stipulation.
“By allegedly taking approximately a quarter-million dollars in bribes, Mayor Roque put his personal wealth and political career ahead of his patients’ needs,” Hoffman said in a statement.
“As evidenced by this multi-phased prosecution, we are intent upon ensuring that a medical practitioner’s professional opinion is not for sale in New Jersey and that all medical advice is given with only a patient’s best interests in mind.”
Roque beat federal hacking charges back in October 2013 and was re-elected to his second term as mayor on May 12, handily defeating longtime antagonist then-Commissioner Count Wiley.
Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $15,000.