ROCHESTER - Ousted city councilor Chris Rice has been placed on unpaid administrative leave by the Rockingham County Sheriff's Office as he awaits his December arraignment on unauthorized access and misuse of DMV records charges while working as a dispatcher, The Rochester Voice has learned.
Rice, 32, who was removed from office in May following a trial that found him guilty of harassment, making fraudulent statements to city staff and retaliation, was arrested last month on charges he illegally accessed computer systems of police and the DMV while working as a Rockingham County Sheriff's dispatcher.
The charges accuse him of trying to learn information about three individuals including one of his accusers, Rochester City Councilor Ashley Desrochers.
An arrest complaint obtained by The Rochester Voice alleges that Rice "knowingly accessed a computer network ... the State Police Online telecommunication System (SPOTS), without authorization, to obtain the driver's license records of Ashley L. Desrochers, knowing that he is not authorized to do so."
Desrochers' testimony at the trial and to a lawyer who investigated the allegations proved the most damning to Rice, who called the trial flawed in that it "lacked due process."
Rice is charged with unauthorized access of Desrochers' driver's license record on March 12, as well as unauthorized access to two other individuals' drivers license records on June 19 and Sept. 4.
The six charges are all Class B misdemeanors, which carry no jail time but can result in a $1,200 fine each.
Rice, of Ten Rod Road, is free on bail pending his arraignment on Dec. 6 in Brentwood Circuit court.
The Rochester Voice is not disclosing the other two individuals who were victims of Rice's alleged snooping.
The investigation by State Police that led to Rice's arrest began in September.
The City Council on May 12 voted 9-3 to to remove Rice from the council on charges of harassment of Desrochers, making fraudulent statements to city staff and retaliation against Mayor Paul Callaghan and Desrochers.
Councilors Tim Fontneau, Dana Berlin and Laura Hainey voted against removal.