Ex-Superintendent Mike Ritacco Sentenced Today [POLL/AUDIO]
The disgraced former Toms River Regional School Superintendent, Mike Ritacco, has a date in court today, to learn how long he'll be going to prison for corruption.
Under sentencing guidelines, Mike Ritacco, who pleaded guilty to mail fraud and conspiracy to defraud the IRS last spring, could face 11 to 14 years behind bars. But it's possible the judge could give him more than 20.
Toms River school board member Alex Pavliv says he's hoping Ritacco gets the maximum sentence.
"He abused the public trust, stole money that should have been going to the kids for their educational purposes to line his pockets - as if he wasn't making enough. It's an outrage. To give him anything less is ridiculous."
Pavliv says, "It made us a laughing stock…People look at Toms River- you drive by the school system- what comes to mind first? Not any achievements our students have made, but the corruption of the Ritacco era."
He says, "There were signals all over the place of what was going on over here, I don't understand how they were missed…This guy ran a construction business during the height of the building boom we had in the mid 2 thousands. When everybody was building homes and buying homes- how could they allow that to go on? And allegedly, he's running the school district in the 4th largest city in the state of New Jersey - an impossibility. It should have been a red flag immediately - the projects he constructed made no sense."
"People were led to believe he was some sort of great innovator and administrator - when the fact of the matter was our test scores were not that great- he was completely ignoring that…The students were ignored while he was building monuments to himself- it was an absurd situation."
As for the future, he says, "We're reshaping, we're putting things into place, we're trying to emphasize the student achievement…It's going to take time to recover from the scandal, but ultimately with the proper people in there and the proper policies, we can get this back where we belong and put this stench of corruption behind us."
After the plea deal was worked out between federal prosecutors and Ritacco's lawyer back in April, U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Paul Fishman said, "Ritacco betrayed the students, parents, teachers, and taxpayers of the Toms River Regional School District by soliciting and receiving more than $1 million in bribes over a long period of time. This conduct strikes at the core of our trust in government and is intolerable, and today's plea is another affirmative step in federal law enforcement's efforts to ensure that the local government insurance brokerage business in the state of New Jersey is conducted free from corruption and fraud."