'Joba-The-Not' charged with impersonating Yankee

New York Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain throws against the Detroit Tigers in the third inning of a spring training baseball game in Lakeland, Fla., Saturday, March 15, 2008. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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BELMAR, N.J. (AP) -- If New York Yankees star Joba Chamberlain really WAS at the Jersey shore, wouldn't he ask for something better than a bagel? That question apparently was never asked when a Toms River man with a strong resemblance to the Yankee pitcher allegedly implied that he was Chamberlain. Ryan Ward, 30, was charged with theft by deception and disorderly conduct, and could get more than a year in jail if convicted.

He's charged with scamming a Belmar bagel shop out of free food last summer after allegedly telling an employee, "Do you know who I am?" and pointing to a photo of Chamberlain in a newspaper sports section.

Police said he signed autographs and promised women free Yankee tickets.

Ward has denied the charges, telling the Asbury Park Press, "You can't have fun anymore, can you?"

The newspaper dubbed him "Joba-The-Not."

His municipal court trial is scheduled for Feb. 11.

Police in Monmouth County say Ward represented himself as Chamberlain in other businesses in Belmar and Spring Lake, and was banned from a few local bars because of it.

Ward declined to answer specific questions about his actions, telling the newspaper, "It was something I did for the summer. I had a lot of fun with it."

His attorney, Constantine Bardis, called the charges against Ward a "tragedy."

"What's the crime in pretending to be someone?" Bardis asked. "I'm Mel Gibson; want to have a drink? He just goofed around because he kind of looks like the guy."

Ward then corrected his lawyer.

"He looks like me," Ward said.

Belmar Police Chief Jack Hill called Ward a "nut," saying Ward broke the law when he pretended to be a Yankees pitcher.

"He impersonated another person and took advantage of it," Hill said. "We frown on people taking other people's identity."

A Yankees spokesman declined comment.

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