Schools urged to sue ex-superintendent

An image of Michael Ritacco from the Toms River Regional Schools website. (Toms River Regional Schools website)
November 26, 2010 6:24:35 AM PST
The Toms River Township council is urging the Board of Education to sue former Superintendent Michael Ritacco, who is charged in a $2 million bribery kickback scheme.

For the second time in a month, the council has written to the board urging it to sue Ritacco, who maintains his innocence and has predicted he will be acquitted at trial.

Mayor Thomas Kelaher says the council wants an answer for the public before its Dec. 14 meeting.

Ritacco is accused of taking as much as $2 million in bribes from the school district's insurance broker. He retired Oct. 21, the same day he surrendered to the FBI in Newark.

In a copy of the letter given to the Asbury Park Press, Kelaher wrote that although Ritacco, former director of athletics Frank D'Alonzo, former health insurance co-broker Frank Controneo and former broker Francis X. Gartland have not been convicted of any crimes, about $2 million in taxpayers funds were diverted. The mayor said the council wants to take all possible steps to recover the money.

Kelaher said he recognizes the autonomy of the school board, over which the council has no authority, according to state law. However, he said he felt he had to cite the importance of safeguarding "the assets of the taxpayers whom we collectively represent."

If the council does not receive a response by Dec. 10, "the governing body will be in a position to take appropriate legal steps as soon as possible to protect the assets that rightfully belong to our taxpayers and residents," Kelaher wrote.

The board's offices were closed Friday and a spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment.

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Information from: Asbury Park Press


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