NJ School Superintendent Sentenced For Corruption, Insurance Kickbacks

Pleading guilty to public corruption, tax evasion and admitting that he had accepted kickbacks to allow an insurance broker have inflated commissions with the school board transactions, a former New Jersey school district superintendent was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment on Friday, Sept. 14.

Michael Ritacco, 64 years old, who administrated Toms River schools for two decades received his sentence from U.S. District Judge Joel Pisano who told Ritacco that his case was worse than the others, referring to the other public corruption cases the judge have heard before including that of Camden Mayor Milton Milan.

Milan who was accused of receiving payoffs, stealing campaign funds and laundering drug money, was sentenced by Pisano to seven years in prison. Pisano said that Milan’s case was like “nickels and dimes” compared to the crimes committed by Ritacco.

Ritacco who was arrested in 2010 admitted to have accepted around $2 million in kickbacks from insurance broker, Francis Gartland. This broker also pleaded guilty to have participated in bribing the schools superintendent.

Though Ritacco admitted guilt, his lawyers asked for leniency saying that the superintendent was a good man. A legal memo was submitted by Ritacco’s camp together with 140 letters from his supporters and a booklet showcasing his accomplishments.

It has been reported that around $4 million of public funds was lost as Ritacco conspired to inflate insurance fees and took kickbacks from it. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dustin Chao estimated that Ritacco was able to collect not least than $2.3 million over the years.

On the other hand, Pisano will be holding a hearing in the coming days to figure out how much restitution shall Ritacco and Gartland must pay to the Toms River school board.

On Friday, Pisano also said that the $150,000 fines that he ordered Ritacco to pay can be given to the Toms River district.