Feds target Toms River SD in corruption probe

April 22, 2010 3:12:22 PM PDT
A steady stream of agents from the FBI's evidence response team removed box after box from the posh beach house of long time Tom's River School Superintendent Michael Ritacco.

"At least 15 cars pulled up and all these guys got out with FBI jackets on. I said to myself, what the heck is going on here?" neighbor Shirley Regan said.

A question so many are no asking.

The FBI won't talk about the reason for the raids, but Eyewitness News has learned the bureau executed several search warrants this morning at Ritacco's home, the home of his girlfriend and at the school district's offices.

It's all in connection to a possible case of corruption and fraud.

Ritacco wouldn't answer his door after the FBI finally left, but Pat Golenbeski heard what was happening and wasn't surprised at all. She says there have been rumors for years.

"He is a wonderful businessman, but a school isn't a business. It's supposed to educate," Golenbeski said.

Ritacco has been successful here. The sports complex in town is named after him. His beach house is just one lot away from the ocean. He also owns a black Mercedes, but the feds took that away too.

Over the years, he has been dogged by community activists claiming kickbacks and corruption, but none of the allegations have ever been proven.

A spokesperson for the school district said, "A subpoena was executed this morning on the business office of the toms river regional board of education for records. We are cooperating fully. All school activities are continuing as normal."

But nothing here is normal anymore.

Now, everyone in this quiet shore town is trying to figure out what the government thinks their superintendent did, and does it affect them.