A former Toms River schools superintendent facing corruption charges has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the district.
Michael Ritacco claims school officials improperly withheld money from a tax-exempt retirement fund they set up for him in 200. He also seeks more than $62,000 in unused sick and vacation time that he claims he's entitled to under his contract.
Ritacco retired Oct. 21, 2010, the same day he surrendered to the FBI. He's facing bribery, mail fraud and wire fraud charges for allegedly concealing more than $1 million in bribes authorities say he received from insurance brokers and other service providers between 2002 and 2010 as part of an insurance kickback scheme.
Ritacco has pleaded innocent to all charges and is expected to go on trial sometime next spring.
School officials were served with the suit Thursday night and discussed it in a closed session. But they declined to comment publicly on the matter.
Ritacco's lawyer, William J. Hughes Jr., told the Asbury Park Press of Neptune that his client has repeatedly asked the district to issue a lump sum payment for the funds. He says the money was withheld from Ritacco while he worked for the district in Ocean County.
“This is not new money coming out of this year's budget or future years' budgets,” Hughes said. “This money has been budgeted and has been earned as a matter of fact and as a matter of law.”