NJ Supreme Court: Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla just shy of law license suspension

New Jersey Supreme Court finds Hoboken mayor Ravi Bhalla didn’t pay employee for six years!

What happened to the money?

It’s the day after and a reading of the New Jersey Supreme Court censure of Ravi Bhalla reveals the full gory details.

The Hoboken mayor was an eyelash, one vote from seeing his law license suspended!

Worse, Ravi Bhalla didn’t pay his former employee monies owed over years from 2008 and 2009 until a grievance was filed years later in 2015. Only then, in 2016 did he pay over $6,200 in retirement monies owed.

Within the NJ Supreme Court findings:

  • Ravi Bhalla’s “nonchalance” regarding his employee’s missing monies occurred over SIX YEARS
  • The stated nonchalance occurred while Ravi Bhalla was “under investigation and then disciplined in another matter…” He was reprimanded in that instance
  • The narrow 4-3 NJSC vote came within a vote of suspending his law license for three months
  • 3 votes sought to have Ravi Bhalla’s law license suspended; two members didn’t participate
  • The decision to censure not reprimand Ravi Bhalla was compounded by his repeated behavior
  • Ravi Bhalla failed to take “any substantial steps” to rectify not making payments to his former employee for “nearly seven years”
  • Ravi Bhalla “despite his promises” did not “return the funds” until 2016 and 2017
  • The employee’s funds were not paid until after a grievance was filed in August 2015
  • Ravi Bhalla also failed to make proper Social Security payments for the same employee
  • Ravi Bhalla issued W-2 forms showing payments made to the IRS not made
  • “The question of what happened to the monies is unanswered.” NJSC Page 9
  • Ravi Bhalla must reimburse the Disciplinary Oversight Committee for associated costs “in the prosecution of this matter.” 
In an official statement on behalf of Ravi Bhalla, his campaign spokesman Rob Horowitz attempted to cover up the actual series of NJ Supreme Court findings saying:
“This was an inadvertent payroll mistake… The employee never informed Mr. Bhalla and then waited seven years and filed an ethics complaint. As soon as Mr. Bhalla realized there was an underpayment, he immediately paid the amount due.”
But the NJ Supreme Court’s findings differ sharply with that claim. 

Despite his promises, respondent did not review his records, follow up with (Alexander) Bentsen, or ensure that the funds were credited to Bentsen’s IRA. Although Bentsen made numerous requests of respondent to rectify the matter,.. he did not… return the funds to Bentsen until 2016 and 2017, only after Bentsen had filed a grievance against him, in August 2015.

The NJ Supreme Court came within a single vote of suspending Ravi Bhalla’s law license for three months.

The complete legal decision rendered by the NJ Supreme Court:

Related: The Hudson County View covered this late-breaking news yesterday and tied it into the City Council’s efforts for transparency on Ravi’ Bhalla’s second job. He is resisting providing their requests for quarterly reports on his outside earnings and client contracts with a Republican land use law firm.

The City Council held off on a final vote on the ordinance for transparency as it explores a possible option for re-establishing a local ethics panel.

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