Ritacco Pleads Guilty to Mail Fraud, Tax Evasion

Plea came in federal court this morning, IRS confirms

Former Toms River Regional Schools Superintendent Michael J. Ritacco pleaded guilty this morning to mail fraud and conspiracy to impede the IRS, officials said. He could face 11 to 14 years jail time, according to sentencing guidelines.

In the courtroom of Judge Joel Pisano, where he would have faced trial Monday, Ritacco pleaded to two of the 27 charges he was facing, and admitted his role in years of corruption at the school district, where as much as $2.5 million in bribes were allegedly passed between Ritacco, insurance brokers and intermediaries.

Rob Glantz, IRS Crimininal Investigations spokesperson from New Jersey, confirmed that as part of the plea Ritacco will forfeit $1 million dollars, his 2010 Mercedes e550, and $8,960 from his home found as part of an FBI raid.

"He basically admitted to bribery and kick-back schemes," Glantz said. Counts 1 and 19 of the indictment were specifically what Ritacco pleaded guilty to, which concerned the mail fraud and conspiracy to impede the IRS.

As part of the plea agreement, the prosecution will ask at sentencing that the 25 other charges be dismissed, Glantz said.

"Obviously the charge of conspiracy to impede the IRS is one our office is concerned with," Glantz said. "With criminal investigation at IRS our main job is violation of Internal Revenue Code," which Ritacco admitted to.

Glantz said sentencing is scheduled for July 12, and that the sentencing guidelines for a charge of this type is 135 to 168 months.

The plea came days after Francis X. Gartland pleaded guilty to charges of mail fraud, conspiracy to defraud the IRS and perjury — charges he faced as the named co-conspirator in the Ritacco indictment.

U.S. District Attorney Paul Fishman said the dollar amount of bribes — more than $2.5 million, he estimates — passing through the hands of public officials may be the largest amount in a public corruption case.

"We don't say, how is what happened in this case more or less corrupt than another case," Fishman said by phone this afternoon. "But we can classify it as involving a dollar amount so large it may be the largest in some time, if not the largest ever."

The FBI raided Ritacco's Seaside Park home as part of an investigation two years ago. Months later, , amid allegations he took between in exchange for using his influence to make sure Gartland received multi-million dollar contracts from the district.

The path to trial has been paved with several requests to reschedule, as well as denied motions to sever the joint trial of Gartland and Ritacco. to begin on April 9 in Trenton.

The original trial date was July 25., during a trial conference held at the end of January 2011, according to the U.S. District court records. The trial was rescheduled twice more to the April 9 start date.

Ritacco pleaded not guilty in December 2010.

Ritacco surrendered to authorities in Newark on Oct. 21, 2010; he resigned from his superintendent post that same day and Toms River Regional school board .

The contains 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.

To view all of Patch's coverage, click here.

Caln McGregor April 05, 2012 at 11:02 PM
Jersieyboy is one of Rattytacos family members. Let the poor soul grieve the conviction of a low life criminal
GaryR April 05, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Jerziboy has got to be some 13yo kid just messing around...NO ONE could be that misinformed and be an adult.
Jerzieboy89 April 05, 2012 at 11:06 PM
So Caln McGregor, your telling me, if this happened to you, and you were told that the government is going to put your children on the street AND put you away for 30 years UNLESS you plead guilty. your saying you wouldn't? You would take the chance of a trial?
GaryR April 05, 2012 at 11:09 PM
JB, quit while you're behind....
BW April 05, 2012 at 11:10 PM
Ok let me try this again, then I give up. You see even the FEDS may miss a piece of evidence or think something is not that important. You come on here spewing all these "FACTS" which are no where in print or on tv, only in your mind. Well your FACTS could cause the feds to say hey wait a minutes, and cause them to throw out uncle Mikes plea and put him away for life. I am really surprised your lawyer didnt tell you to keep your mouth shut. To quote Forrest Gump "Stupid is as stupid does"
BW April 05, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Doesnt his girlfriend still run the cafe?
jim_hado April 05, 2012 at 11:16 PM
They obviously aren't "facts" Jerzieboy is a lost cause. Nice try next-door neighbor
Pual D. April 05, 2012 at 11:16 PM
JerseyBoy is a well know Ritacoco family member. Let the poster post, its funny how some will defend a criminal. Remember when a few die hard ones defended Scarpelli when he fleeced the taxpayers?
barbara April 05, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Yea, BW, was wondering the same thing. Sure she knows and has alot.....why she get off?
Eggs-n-Toast April 06, 2012 at 12:08 AM
Stop using this situation as an excuse to spam the board, Joe....knock it off.
TP April 06, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Check out the article on this site about the Lacey Superintendent who recently retired. You know, he worked for the well-being and the great education of "the children". Well, he retired with a $122,000 pension! He didn't even need to break the law to rob the taxpaying fools. Read it and weep check out whose collecting a $100,000 pensions in Ocean County.
TP April 06, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Starodub's pension $122,000 after retiring from Lacey Twp School District. Imagine what Ritacco's is.
Catherine Galioto (Editor) April 06, 2012 at 12:16 AM
At 8 p.m., I corrected the spelling of IRS spokesperson's last name to Glantz, and added some comments from our interview with U.S. District Attorney Paul Fishman.
BW April 06, 2012 at 12:20 AM
"U.S. District Attorney Paul Fishman said the dollar amount of bribes — more than $2.5 million, he estimates — passing through the hands of public officials may be the largest amount in a public corruption case."" Keep looking in Ocean County. I bet you will find more that make thid one look like pennies on the dollar!
1stcav April 06, 2012 at 12:51 AM
If he cooperates he'll do good, name names and times, if not the feds will throw the book at him and that's the 15 and NO time off for good behavior..period ! That's how they roll , play fair and they will help you do easy time, if not they go for the throat and you get the max on everything..and they go after everything you own , your kids own and your grand kids own..everything. YOU have to prove that things were NOT bought with ill gotten funds, not them. Fruits of the poisoned tree...you loose !
jack April 06, 2012 at 01:52 AM
If Christie Comes to Ocean county to speak about ethics, Who will be left?
Joseph E. Haelig April 06, 2012 at 02:36 AM
There are dozens and dozens of public officials, school administrators, county and township employees in Ocean County and Toms River, Republicans and Democrats alike, who need to take a good, hard look in the mirror and ask themselves, how did I let this happen? I have the answer and it all revolves around greed. Just think Camp Albocondo.
10% Tax Cut NOW April 06, 2012 at 02:59 AM
A forensic audit is needed on the Ritacco run Toms River Fest - many Administrators are still on the payroll today - don't let this page get unturned.
Rick Ricky April 06, 2012 at 03:41 AM
So many educators are immature bullies!
dave April 06, 2012 at 11:08 AM
hey bernie madoff,move over,company coming!
. April 06, 2012 at 11:29 AM
I still want to know why Christie has yet to make a comment about the corruption of his good friend Ritacco! If it was anyone else, we would have heard his mouth all over the state.
Mike L April 06, 2012 at 12:10 PM
Well Lava, he was smart for many years, but it shows you how many corrupt people he had with him over the years and kept it quiet in fear or just greed! I hope they don't forget the girl friend and all she got from him and all the monies she lost for Cafe 1144, or did she????
Mike L April 06, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Let's be honest you are talking about the Ritacco6 and the Boards Attorney, why would they endanger themselves with the truth. They let him stay on and gave him the opportunity to retire........Yes, we should get all our monies back and that's from ALL that profited from his corruption!
Da Poppa April 06, 2012 at 12:37 PM
@Rick Ricky ... Not educators, but education administrators ... And it's the same aross the state and especially in Ocean County.
Wanda April 06, 2012 at 12:41 PM
And the only way you could ever get a teaching job in that district was if you knew someone....
BW April 06, 2012 at 12:47 PM
It's that way everywhere. Here in Brick Acropolis got elected mayor and all of a sudden 2 teaching jobs suddenly opened up for his wife and daughter.
PeopleAnnoyMe April 06, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Silver dollar April 06, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Its another Bank
charlotte April 07, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Bet he does less than 2 years and the investigation ends with him.....
fs September 13, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Leave the family out of it. You don't know them. They did NO WRONG


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something