Gary Vitta

Honorable Stanley R. Chesler, U.S.D.J.

United States District Court

Frank R. Lautenberg U.S. Post Office & Courthouse

2 Federal Square

Newark, New Jersey 07102


Re: United States v. Gary Vitta

Crim. No. 15-01


Dear Judge Chesler,

My name is Frank Giarratano and I am writing to you about Dr. Gary Vitta in the hopes that I may convey the true integrity of this man. The children of Rockaway Township truly thrived during his time here as Superintendent of Schools.

I was fortunate to be elected to four terms on the board of education. I spent 12 years and 8 months in this position and when I was nominated by my fellow board members to be President of the Board for four of those years, I accepted. During my fourth term, I made a decision not to run again.

I met Gary in 2005 during a superintendent search. Gary immediately struck me as a man of conviction, with a positive disposition and a strong vision of how an education system should encourage student engagement and performance. We needed a hard working leader to reinvigorate the entire district, and the Board unanimously voted to hire Dr. Vitta. His passion for education, his ability to touch people, and his commitment to students was evident and it was exactly what we needed.

Throughout Gary’s 5+ years with the district, he was known for infusing a culture of excellence and pride into Rockaway Township Schools. His programs resulted in students wanting to do well. The demeanor of our students became one of caring and respect, and Gary made sure that the facilities always reflected a dignified environment.

Gary believed that every possible budget dollar should directly benefit students. As such, he took all opportunities to cut any layers of waste he could find. He reorganized departments when people retired to reduce headcount where he could. He was also relentless in securing competitive pricing from every vendor that worked with the district. In fact, when large contracts came up, he negotiated rates that were superior to any we had seen. He was very focused on dedicating every bit of the savings back into the classroom for the kids.

This was noteworthy to me as a Board member, as in other districts I had seen lucrative contracts left in place, rote hiring to replace positions when people retired (with no regard for efficiencies or thinking outside the box), and casual attitudes regarding public money. This was not Gary.

When our budget was cut by the state of NJ, Gary donated his contractual raise back to our district to help fund programs for the kids. He was the first in our district to do this, and he did it willingly because he felt that it was the right thing to do. This is emblematic of the kind of person Gary is.

In one particular year, I recall nearly a half million dollars in savings from consolidated positions and re-negotiated contracts. I don’t know, but I would imagine that in districts where improprieties occur, contracts are not negotiated as aggressively.

In addition, when Gary realized that an item of his personal property could benefit the kids, he donated it. He took great joy in knowing that an item that his family had enjoyed (such as a piano) would also be enjoyed by generations of children in our schools. He gave of his own personal assets often.

Gary was not just about saving money. The savings were a means to an end, and the end was improving the educational environment for our kids. Gary beautified all school grounds during his time with us. It was noticeable. The pride that our students felt in their surroundings was noticeable as well. There came a sense of respect and kindness for each other during Gary’s time with us. I can recall noticing this, and mentioning it several times in my talks at middle school graduations.

I have always believed that we should leave this world a better place than we found it. I have seen Gary do this in many of his personal relationships. He gives so much of himself. I can recall him mentoring young adults on career choices on more than one occasion.

I was amazed at the number of people who came to Gary’s retirement dinner, and the love that people showed him. From past students to colleagues, all conveyed a sense of how much this caring man had done for them, and meant in their lives. It was so obvious that Gary is loved. Rockaway Township misses him.

I serve on my church’s parish council, and finance committee. I have volunteered in our community for nearly 20 years, and I live by a strict moral compass. I have asked Gary many questions so that I could understand the nuances of the situation he now faces. After thoughtful analysis, I have concluded that out of fear, Gary had a lapse of judgement and made a serious mistake. Knowing all the good that he has done for people, I support Gary Vitta, and I believe in his integrity. After having gone through this experience, his life has changed forever. Gary continues to serve his community and the children of northern New Jersey admirably and I sincerely hope he is permitted to continue along this path.

I employ 50+ people in my business, and over the years I have hired more than 150 people. I am considered a good judge of character. If I ever had a doubt, ever, that Gary did anything but serve the children of this town with integrity and honor, if I ever thought that he was involved in anything dishonest, I can assure you that I would not be writing this letter. My own integrity means the world to me. The people of our town entrusted me, and fellow board members with a considerable responsibility…to serve their children. I humbly ask you to consider all of these factors when thinking about your decision regarding Gary Vitta. I know in my heart that he is a good person.

I stand by Gary Vitta, I stake my reputation on his character, and I know that he has many years of community service to our youth yet to serve. I hope and pray that he is permitted to do so. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.



Frank P. Giarratano

President/COO; Partner – SGW Integrated Marketing Communications

Past President of the Rockaway Township Board of Education (2004-2007, 2013)