TOMS RIVER – Former Superintendent Michael Ritacco did a lot for Toms River schools, but he will be remembered for what he did for himself.

  Ritacco was sentenced to prison in 2012 for tax evasion and bribery charges. Between 2002 and 2010, he had swindled more than a million dollars from the district through insurance scams with the district’s insurance broker, Francis X. Gartland, insurance broker Frank Cotroneo, and Frank D’Alonzo, who had been the district’s athletic supervisor and supervisor of technology projects.

  According to the U.S. Attorney General’s Office, Ritacco was incarcerated in Fairton, New Jersey, with a release date of Aug. 6, 2022. Today, the Bureau of Prisons shows that he is at a Residential Reentry Management in Philadelphia. It is now shown that his release date is May 25, 2022. Residential programs like this one are halfway houses that allow recently released inmates to acclimate to outside life.

  Under the First Step Act, inmates may earn up to 54 days of good conduct time for each year of the term imposed, according to the Bureau of Prisons.

  Up until his indictment, Ritacco had been a powerful force in town and one of the district’s biggest cheerleaders. He championed the budget, special projects, and ways to bring in revenue besides taxes.

  One of these was an arena on the campus of High School North, which was later dubbed The Ritacco Center. The facility kept his name until his illegal activity became public. Then, the district sold the naming rights to Poland Springs and now its name is the RWJBarnabas Health Arena. Even when the building was built, there were questions about its finances. During its first year being open, the High School North’s graduation was held there, and a student told a reporter that students had been promised more use of the building, but that was the first time she was in it.

  Also during his tenure was the construction of the John Bennett Indoor Athletic Facility, named after a former superintendent, which broke ground in 2006. It’s the “bubble” between Intermediate East and Hooper Avenue Elementary School. The $2.4 million building was paid for by a referendum, with the state paying 40 percent.