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Baltimore Broker Gets 15 Years For Swindling School Board

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(AP Photo/California Department of Correction)

(AP Photo/California Department of Correction)

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NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — An insurance broker already headed to prison for funneling bribes to a former Toms River school superintendent now faces an additional sentence for swindling Perth Amboy.

A state judge in New Brunswick on Monday sentenced Francis Gartland, 71, of Baltimore, to 15 years in prison on a money-laundering charge for submitting $2.6 million in fraudulent bills to the Perth Amboy school board. He must serve at least half of the term before being eligible for parole.

He also received a concurrent seven-year sentence for stealing more than $200,000 from the city of Perth Amboy by collecting payments for a wellness program that didn’t exist.

Gartland’s company was the school board’s health insurance broker; he admitted to having conspired for years to bill the school system for nonexistent or unauthorized wellness programs.

Gartland was also ordered to make restitution and to pay nearly $8 million in fines, but his attorney, Kelly Daniels, said he did not have the money to pay the fine,  The Star-Ledger reported.

“School districts and municipalities across New Jersey — and the taxpayers who fund them — must pay out millions of dollars each year for insurance,” Stephen J. Taylor, director of the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, said in a written statement. “The last thing they can afford is dishonest insurance brokers who jack up the cost by millions more to enrich themselves.”

Last month, Gartland was sentenced in federal court to more than 11 years in prison for his role in a bribery scheme involving New Jersey’s fourth-largest school district. The state sentence will run concurrent with that term, the Star-Ledger reported.

He admitted funneling up to $2 million in bribes to Toms River Regional Superintendent Michael Ritacco from 2002 to 2010 as part of a scheme to keep his contract as the district’s insurance broker.

Ritacco also was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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