Mike Ritacco’s Legacy Taints School Board For Residents [AUDIO]
Former Toms River Superintendent Mike Ritacco will face his fate before a judge Friday morning in Trenton to hear the sentencing decision on mail fraud and impeding charges he plead guilty to earlier this year.
However, while the former school head waits to hear his fate, Toms River residents also weigh in.
On April 5th Ritacco plead guilty on two of the 27 charges he was facing, and admitted to his role 2.5 million in bribes being transferred between Ritacco, insurance brokers, and third parties. The sentencing was originally scheduled for July 12th, but was postponed to June.
“I think we should just move on, we did what they had to do and that’s what important. He hurt the kids, he hurt himself, and he hurt the people.” Says resident Edna Logato, adding that “there’s always corruption in politics” so people should always be skeptical of who they elect.
Some people however feel much stronger about the taint that Ritacco left on the entire school board in Toms River.
“School boards are all corrupt, they’re all political. I don’t have any faith in that system.” The residents adds when she heard of Ritacco’s arrest, “I thought when he got arrested “oh good they finally got that crook”, but there’s a lot of crooks out there. It’s a drop in the bucket.”
Legal experts say the mail fraud and conspiracy to impede the IRS guilty please Ritacco made could carry a jail time of between 11 and 14 years. However there was speculation on whether U.S. District Judge Joel Pisano would give a lesser sentence if Ritacco provided others involved in the corruption within the school district.
While Ritacco’s sentence is not yet set in stone, his plea deal did require him to forfeit a million dollars, his 2010 Mercedes E550, and $8,960 found in his home during an FBI raid.
While Ritacco may appear to be persona non grata in much of Toms River, some residents have a positive view on the superintendent. Noting, that corruption aside, he did a lot to help the students.
“When my kids were in school he did well…he did the bubble, he did special things with the kids, he initiated a lot of special programs.”
Former district insurance broker Francis X Gartland, who plead guilty to several charges related to the Ritacco case and admitted to his role in paying one to two million dollars to the former superintended in exchange for inflated insurance contracts, still awaits sentencing.