by: Mike Pignataro
A 63-year-old Chester resident with an insurance brokerage office in Morristown was sentenced Monday for their roles in separate schemes involving Toms River officials.
Frank Cotroneo was sentenced to 37 months in prison for funneling bribes to former Toms River Superintendent Michael J. Ritacco.
Cotroneo admitted to funneling the bribes in exchange for inflated insurance contracts. He pleaded guilty to one count each of bribery and tax evasion arising from his role in the Ritacco scandal, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Cotroneo was also ordered to pay more than $12.4 million in restitution to the Toms River School District and in forfeiture to the United States.
Ritacco pleaded guity in 2012 to two of the 27 charges he was facing, and admitted his role in years of corruption at the school district, where as much as $2.5 million in bribes were allegedly passed between Ritacco, insurance brokers and intermediaries.
Meanwhile, Carmine Inteso, 47, of Toms River was sentenced Monday to six months in prison and six months of house arrest for evading his income tax obligations.
Inteso, who was arrested in July 2012 after returning from Afghanistan where he had been working as a contractor, pleaded guilty in December 2012 before U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano to one count of tax evasion, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
From 2002 through 2007, Inteso held the positions of Township Committee member, mayor, deputy mayor, and councilman for Toms River, formerly known as Dover Township.
Inteso allegedly took a job in Afghanistan after learning he was the target of the tax investigation and, after returning to the United States, was taken into custody at New York’s John F. Kennedy International airport.
Pisano imposed the sentences Monday in Trenton federal court.
According to documents filed and statements made in court:
Cotroneo admitted that, from 2002 to April 2009, he and co-conspirators Gartland and Frank D’Alonzo, a former administrator at the Toms River Regional School District, paid bribes and other benefits to Ritacco, who was then the superintendent of the district.
The payments were made to allow Cotroneo and Gartland, 72, of Baltimore, Md., – insurance co- brokers for the school district – to obtain and keep the lucrative insurance brokerage contracts with the district.
To facilitate the scheme, Ritacco, Gartland and Cotroneo agreed to have Ritacco approve a workers’ compensation insurance contract between Gartland and the school district, which yielded between $500,000 and $600,000 annually in excess fees. Those proceeds were to be used to make hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to Ritacco.
Cotroneo also admitted that for tax years 2005 to 2007, he evaded the assessment of hundreds of thousands of dollars of federal income taxes by concealing the illegal proceeds he received from Gartland and others during the course of the bribery scheme.
Ritacco and Gartland were ordered previously to pay $4,336, 987.91 in restitution to the school district. Pisano ordered Cotroneo on Monday to pay $3,275,677.65 in restitution, which represented the loss to the school district while he was an active participant in the scheme.
In addition to ordering restitution, the court ordered that Cotroneo forfeit to the United States a sum of $9,126,200.16, which represented the proceeds derived from the scheme. D’Alonzo was ordered to pay $1,625,952.79 in restitution, and also ordered to forfeit a sum of approximately $4.3 million.
Gartland was previously ordered to forfeit $11 million, which represented the total proceeds derived from the fraudulent scheme. Prior to his sentencing on Sept. 14, 2012, Ritacco forfeited to the United States $1 million, a 2010 Mercedes Benz, and $8,950 in cash.
In addition to the prison term and payments, Judge Pisano sentenced Cotroneo to serve three years of supervised release.
In a separate and unrelated scheme beginning in 2005 and continuing through 2008, Inteso accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments from Gartland, an insurance broker whose companies provided insurance brokerage services for New Jersey municipal entities including the Brick Township Board of Education and the Township of Toms River.
Inteso directed Gartland to make the payments to a company Inteso controlled and that had ceased operating by 2007. Gartland pleaded guilty to charges of mail fraud, conspiracy to defraud the IRS and perjury and was sentenced to 135 months in prison.
Inteso used the funds to pay for his personal expenses and withdrew significant amounts of cash. Despite receiving approximately $291,000 in income from the insurance broker during calendar years 2006, 2007 and 2008, Inteso failed to file personal income taxes for those years.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Pisano sentenced Inteso to serve two years of supervised release.