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Statements from Key Officials in Toms River's Ritacco Scandal

Board members, investigators, district weigh in

With former superintendent Michael Ritacco in a $2 million bribery and corruption case, the reaction from the community, school board, Toms River Regional district and other key players is unfolding.

Here is a collection of their reactions.

U.S. District Attorney Paul Fishman: “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."

Toms River Regional Superintendent Frank Roselli: “We are hopeful that while we are aggressively pursuing all avenues of recovery and restitution for any misappropriated public funds, that we can now also move forward as a community with a renewed focus on the betterment of the district, both operationally and educationally.”

Toms River Regional Board Member Gus Kakavas: "I will continue to do what I have done for almost three years as a Toms River Board of Education member — strongly support what we do right and vigorously address what needs to be fixed. I am looking forward to putting this chapter of Toms River history behind us."

Toms River Regional Board Member Ben Giovine: "I think when I first read the news, my first thought was that this certainly gives the district some closure. It's time for the board to move on and move forward, to increase transparency of the board...Hopefully as a result, we'll see how those who oversee the budgets, oversee different policies make sure they've provided enough sunlight into the process ... You have to blame those who plead guilty. Mike (Ritacco) and Gartland were doing the wrong things. The healing process will be to make sure we increase the transparency."

Toms River Regional Board Member Alex Pavliv: "I think there is much work to be done. The poisonous spider known as Ritacco may now be squashed; the web of intrigue and corruption which he wove will take a great effort to clean out. We have only scratched the surface. I am sorry that he plead to only two counts as his action deprived the children of educational funds while he and his cronies got fat eating the innocent fly known as the Toms River taxpayer. To quote former mayor Ed Koch, 'I seldom forgive and never forget.' I hope the judge throws the book at him for violating the public trust and making a mockery of the Toms River Board of Ed and our school system."

Toms River Regional Board Member Loreen Torrone: "It's a sad and embarrassing day for Toms River Regional Schools and the community in general. This verifies a greater need for transparency by the board of ed. for all areas of the district’s operation. The community has been calling for greater transparency all along, and since Ritacco left the reasons it's needed are on display. Every effort tshould be made to reocever the money’s stolen, and the board of ed. and the board attorney should be working toward that end. Certainly we need to move forward, we need to put this behind us, but we have to learn from it."

Toms River Regional School Board Attorney Thomas Monahan declined to comment, directing queries to Superintendent Frank Roselli, who was scheduled to make a statement at 2 p.m.: "Mr. Roselli is making the statement," Monahan said. "I'm not making any other statement. Mr. Roselli is making a statement on behalf of the district."

 

Berkeley Patch Editor Patricia A. Miller contributed to this article.

10% Tax Cut NOW April 07, 2012 at 02:18 AM
It's time this Board of Education rid themselves of the Gilmore/Monahan strong arms. It's time to change things once and for all and go out for a true RFP for legal services and barring the Gilmore Firm from future contracts due to their close associate of Rittaco.
Ben April 07, 2012 at 08:50 PM
No one commenting cares about the kids. You all are attempting to use the school system as a political pawn. Unfortunately, most people don't care or pay attention to most of what goes on in the schools. Put the focus on the kids and teachers.
Tired of the status quo April 08, 2012 at 03:56 AM
Hey Ben, Your comment is 100% correct that no one cares what goes on with this BOE. You can tell that by the fact that there are usually 6 people who attend these meetings. And, if you happen to be one of those 6 you would see that Carol Benson. Kathy Lazaro, Dennis Gallante, Angelo Di Giovaini and some guy Charlie Henry spoke at these meetings and tried to bring up many of the issues that have come to light such as unsigned contracts, Frank D'Alonzo and his under handed sports equipment deals, Cafe 1144 created for one of his many lovers, not having cash registers at ANY of the events that either went on at the bubble or the Pine Belt Arena and many other things. Here is the reason why things went the way they did with this board and it is that he gave jobs to many of their family and friends so, being beholden to him how could they say anything against him. Ben, I have a question for you...How do you expect the taxpayers to feel sorry for the teachers? Anytime that Ritacco told them to show up at a meeting and shout down the residents who in many cases were trying to help the teachers they came like sheep and shook their pom poms telling everyone what a great job MJR was doing and how we should so happy that he is our Super and that he is the Gold Star standard for Supers. By the way we are SO tired of hearing "ITS FOR THE CHILDREN!"
Ben April 08, 2012 at 04:48 PM
The six people who show up at meetings are not speaking for all the people. Just puppets...it's about the kids not the politics.
Mr. ? April 09, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Really Ben? No one cares about the kids? and if the focus was not on Ritacco, would he still be Super?..and still be stealing from the kids and teachers? Your comments are so, so ignorant!

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