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Co-Defendant Wants to Testify In Favor of Ritacco

U.S. District Court today will hear motion to sever Gartland, Ritacco trial

The man accused alongside former schools superintendent Michael J. Ritacco in an alleged kickback scheme and bribery corruption is asking to testify in support of Ritacco, and says he is innocent.

Francis X. Gartland, the Toms River Regional School district’s former insurance broker, wants to testify at trial that he never paid bribes to Ritacco. The attorneys for both Gartland and Ritacco are asking to sever the co-defendants, and the request will be heard today in a pre-trial motion before Judge Joel Pisano.

, of Toms River Regional retired the same day of his arrest on federal charges of fraud.

Gartland and Ritacco were both indicted Oct. 2010 and are awaiting trial April 3. Both have pleaded not guilty to the federal indictment.

The indictment alleges two counts charging separate conspiracies to defraud the IRS and seven counts of making and subscribing to false federal personal income tax returns. The charges include the tax years of 2004 through 2006 for Ritacco and 2004 through 2007 for Gartland. 

The initial indictment, returned Oct. 19, contained 18 total counts of mail and wire fraud, travel and use of facilities in interstate commerce to promote bribery, and bribery in connection with a local government agency receiving federal funds. U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said payments totaled $2 million over the years in question.

Today in federal court, the defense will ask Pisano to grant a severance to permit Gartland to testify on Ritacco’s behalf.

Gartland will “deny that he ever paid, or intended to pay, Ritacco with money or other things of value in exchange for insurance business,” according to court documents filed by Gartland’s attorney.

“These allegations are wholly untrue, and I wish to present testimony concerning my interactions and business dealings with each of the four individuals identified in the Government’s indictment, three of whom I understand will be testifying against Mr. Ritacco,” said Gartland in the request, filed on Dec. 27, 2011.

Gartland is seeking to testify that payments to the men named as intermediaries in the indictment — Frank D’Alonzo, Frank Cotroneo and another intermediary — were not bribes for Ritacco. While D'Alonzo and Cotroneo are planned to testify against Ritacco, Gartland is seeking to counter their testimoney, according to the court documents.

"I am able to discuss what these payments were for and why they were not, nor ever intended to be, a benefit in any way to Michael Ritacco," wrote Gartland in the severance request documents.

The oral arguments for the pre-trial motion was originally scheduled for earlier this month but was rescheduled to 9:30 a.m. today, Feb. 29.

Nurse February 29, 2012 at 12:33 PM
I remember having dealings with Ritacco when i was a member of a parents group against drugs in the Toms River school system when my daughters were in school, i remember members of this group laid palm down as he walked into our meeting, i remember we were all told to keep it "light" when addressing Ritacco about the issues at hand. My response was that i'm going to hit him with the necessary questions i wanted answered about very evident and existing problems our schools had with drugs, especially the middle schools, I then asked, why was Ritacco even in attendence if not to answer our questions as parents. Needless to say Ritacco's head was in the sand, when asked about the existance of drugs in our schools as well as doing anything about the problem. He could have cared less and showed a very annoyed attitude when asked questions about the problem. I see why now, Ritacco was more concerned with keeping his mistress happy, and reaping all his kick-backs that we ALL know he took happily! His supporters are blind to his evil ways, and i'm thrilled he finally was caught with his proverbial "pants down"
barbara February 29, 2012 at 01:41 PM
I remember going to one of those parents group meetings, if we are talking about the same one. It was held in the townhall building on the second floor. As a parent of a middle school child who was experimenting with drugs, i was concerned to attend this group. He walked in, did not say much and stared down at his expensive guicci loafers. Never went back to one of those meetings.
1stcav February 29, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Plain and simple you were ALL below him and he was told he HAD to make a SHOWING for the "Lil' People ".I Guess none of you will be on the " Guest Visiting" list in the OC Jail , new Ritacco Wing . He saw this as a bump in the road , after all if YOU were proper parents you kids wouldn't be on drugs...so wrong on so many levels and he could care less. Wasn't his kids or Family , tough ..Every Dog has there day, he will get HIS !!
Oscar Wilde February 29, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Bring it on.....Lets get this trial started !!!!!!
DaveL February 29, 2012 at 08:07 PM
He is going to sing like a canary!
George February 29, 2012 at 10:03 PM
How much of the $2,000,000 Ritacco stole from taxpayers is he paying Gartland to say he's innocent? $100,000? $200,000? Mike thinks "the price is right" if it gets him off.
Greg March 01, 2012 at 01:39 AM
Just to let everyone know that the judge did not make a ruling on the Ritacco case today. He said that he will render his judgement soon and that the trial will begin on April 9th.
Silver dollar March 01, 2012 at 02:09 AM
Even though I am not from Toms River . I love to read where 1 crook wants to defend another crook .So the first crook will also defend the other crook ..Talk about 2 peas in the pot .Crook defends Crook
Oscar Wilde March 01, 2012 at 03:08 AM
Thick as thieves
. March 01, 2012 at 03:20 AM
I hear Ritacco's good buddy Christie will be a character witness at the trial!
. March 01, 2012 at 03:23 AM
the saying is "two peas in a pod", not pot.....although, these two just may be cooked.
Joseph E. Haelig March 01, 2012 at 03:31 AM
Any updates on the "severing." I wonder who the third intermediary is, any ideas?
Ken G March 01, 2012 at 04:09 AM
C'mon, the FBI was monitoring him for how long? Get your popcorn out folks this is gonna be one entertaining trial.
Greg March 01, 2012 at 05:09 AM
Could that third person be one his many "girlfriends"? And I am talking about the girlfriends that were on or off the BOE!
I B buggin April 03, 2012 at 04:48 PM
What a difference a month makes.....

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