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Councilman Chico Ramchal

The troubles that started when Jersey City Councilman Khemraj “Chico” Ramchal was charged with DWI in March continued today during a court appearance on theft charges related to an alleged “no show” county job, The Jersey Journal reports today.

Ramchal said nothing while making his first court appearance on the theft charge today in CentralJudicial Processing court in Jersey City. According to a criminal complaint, he purposely obtained “the property of the County of Hudson, specifically through paychecks in the excess of $500, by deception”

The councilman allegedly did so “by creating or reinforcing the false impression that he was at this place of employment working when in fact he was not,” the complaint states.

Following a two-month investigation, Ramchal, 40, was fired June 23 from his job as an enforcement officer at the Hudson County Improvement Authority (HCIA).

The HCIA began its probe on April 8 after The Jersey Journal made inquiries into why GPS records from the car the councilman had been driving — which was registered to the Jersey City Incinerator Authority — showed him driving around Jersey City when the time sheets he submitted to the HCIA indicated he was working.

The GPS records did not indicate who was driving the JCIA Ford at any time. But Ramchal told The Jersey Journal after his arrest that he had been driving it for months because his own car had mechanical issues and there were no city vehicles left for him to use. At the time, Ramchal was an unpaid JCIA commissioner. He stepped down from the JCIA board after The Jersey Journal began making inquiries about the use of the SUV.

Ramchal was also suspended with pay as the agency investigated the newspaper’s claims.

His dismissal from the HCIA came three months after he was arrested in the early morning hours of March 14 and charged with drunken driving after a St. Patrick’s Day party at a Lincoln Park banquet hall.

Witnesses told police Ramchal ran a red light at Communipaw and West Side avenues, slamming into a taxi that subsequently collided with a third car. Police said the councilman had a blood alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit.

Ramchal was subsequently charged with assault by auto by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office — a charge to which he has pleaded not guilty.

Ramchal’s final salary with the county agency, which manages trash and recycling collection, was $49,923. He was first hired there in November 2008. Since his arrest, Ramchal has remained on the Jersey City Council and refused to give up his Ward B seat.

The theft charge is a third degree crime, carrying a possible sentence of three to five years in prison upon conviction, although there is a presumption of non-incarceration for first-time offenders.

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