Former Rockaway Township School Superintendent Pleads Guilty to Attempted Witness Tampering
NEWARK, NJ—The former Rockaway Township superintendent of schools today admitted instructing a witness to lie to the FBI about $4,000 that the witness had previously given to him, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Gary Vitta, 63, of Denville, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler to an information charging him with one count of attempted witness tampering.
According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Vitta was the superintendent of the Rockaway Township School District from 2006 to 2011. He dealt with brokers who provided insurance brokerage services to the district and were paid a commission for the insurance contracts they negotiated. At a Vitta family event, Vitta accepted approximately $4,000 in cash from three of the brokers who had provided insurance brokerage services. Shortly after accepting the $4,000, Vitta returned the $4,000 to one of the insurance brokers. Then, in December 2013, Vitta again accepted the $4,000 from the same insurance broker to whom he had returned it.
After accepting the $4,000, Vitta was interviewed by law enforcement agents with the FBI about any benefits that he may have received from insurance brokers who provided brokerage services to the school district. Vitta failed to mention the $4,000 that he had recently received from an insurance broker, or the $4,000 that he had previously received from three insurance brokers at a family event. Following the interview, Vitta contacted the insurance broker who had repaid him the $4,000 in December 2013. He met the insurance broker at a restaurant in Denville, New Jersey, where they first discussed whether the broker was wearing a wire. Vitta told broker that he had recently been approached by FBI agents. He handed the broker a note instructing the broker to lie to the FBI about the $4,000 that the broker had given to him in December 2013. He instructed the broker to lie about the $4,000 that Vitta had previously received at a family event. He also confirmed to this broker that one of the other insurance brokers who had paid him money at that family event also would lie to the FBI if questioned about that payment.
The witness tampering charge to which Vitta pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for April 22, 2015.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rahul Agarwal and Lee M. Cortes Jr. of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.