The trial date for former Toms River Schools Superintendent Michael J. Ritacco, who faces a 27-count indictment for tax evasion and bribery, was pushed back to Oct. 3.
That’s about a full year from when Ritacco surrendered to federal authorities in 2010, amid allegations he took between $1 million and $2 million in bribes from Francis X. Gartland, the school district’s former insurance broker, in exchange for using his influence to make sure Gartland received multi-million dollar contracts from the district.
The original trial date was July 25. Both sides agreed to adjourn the trial to Oct. 3, during a trial conference held at the end of January, according to the U.S. District court records.
Gartland and Ritacco plead not guilty in December.
Ritacco surrendered to authorities in Newark on Oct. 21; he resigned from his superintendent post that same day.
The 27-count indictment 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.
On Jan. 5, U.S. District Court Judge Garrett E. Brown Jr. agreed the trial could be classified as a “complex case,” a type of designation that stops the speedy trial clock so that both sides can wade through thousands of pages of evidence in time. Without that designation, the Speedy Trial Act of 1974 would force the trial to have an earlier date, said Rebekah Carmichael, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
It also allows for the trial date to be pushed back three months to October.
According to the complex case order, the Ritacco charges are “being the result of a lengthy investigation and the defendants needing sufficient time to review discovery” evidence, which includes tens of thousands of pages of documents, according to the case order.
Ritacco has hired Jerome A. Ballarotto and William J. Hughes as his lawyers for the case, and Gartland’s lawyer is John D. Arsenault.
Prosecuting the case is Dustin Chao, assistant U.S. attorney.