Rajesh “Roger” Chugh, a kind, generous and controversial, but often misunderstood man who served as the Assistant New Jersey Secretary of State briefly in 2002 when James E. McGreevey was governor, died on January 17. He was 68.
For a short time in 2002, Chugh was in the news after an online profile on what The (Bergen) Record called the “World Wide Web” exaggerated his government position and made statements that caused him to be ridiculed.
The website, which resembled an online dating profile, showed him in a pool with his dog, and with President Bill Clinton.
“I am a man of varies preferences but with distinct taste,” he said. “I live by the ‘Q’ — Quality!”
He resigned in 2003 after published reports found that he had been tossed from a travel agency for writing $50,000 in bad checks and causing an airlines to suffer more than $300,000 in losses.
He also took heat for telling an India-based newspaper that after September 11, the United States supported India over Pakistan. That caused Secretary of State Regina Thomas to walk back the statement and explain to him that the New Jersey Department of State doesn’t handle foreign policy.
Later, then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie investigated allegations that Chugh pressured business owners in Central Jersey for campaign contributions, but he was never charged.
In additional to his travel business, Chugh had owned a restaurant and printing business before entering politics in 2001 as a liaison to the South Asian American community for the New Jersey Democratic State Committee.