TOMS RIVER – Township resident Richard Ciullo, 58, was sentenced to 60 days in jail for passing a bad check and it wasn’t his first time.
This marked his second offense for that in six years. He pled guilty in April to a charge of third-degree writing bad checks for an amount ranging between $1,000 and less than $75,000. Due to his guilty plea, he was spared a charge of theft by deception, which was dismissed.
Although he lives in Toms River now, Ciullo used to live in Berkeley Township where he used to be an office holder with the local Republican Club and was one of Berkeley’s representatives on the Central Regional Board of Education. He is also allegedly the administrator of the Facebook page Rise Up Ocean County, which was taken down for anti-Semitic posts. The administrator of the page never gave his name, but multiple unrelated sources have named him as the person who runs it.
On Feb. 7, Superior Court Judge Michael T. Collins sentenced Ciullo to two years on probation and 60 days in the Ocean County Jail as a condition of his probation which will be served on weekends. Ciullo was also ordered by the judge to make restitution in the amount of $4,100 in the case which began in February of 2017.
According to court records and an affidavit, Ciullo offered Dr. James Pasquariello help to recover money he allegedly lost to a New York body shop owner who had charged him for repairs that were never made. Ciullo told Pasquariello, also of Toms River, that he could help him file the proper documentation with the courts in order to sue body shop owner Thomas Zaino and recover his money. Pasquariello then gave Ciullo approximately $4,100 in cash, according to the affidavit.
In the months that followed, Ciullo told Pasquariello that the proceedings were moving forward and that “he was likely to recover approximately $30,000 from Zaino if Zaino was not present in court,” the affidavit states. After that Pasquariello was no longer able to contact Ciullo and by October 2017, Pasquariello had hired attorney William Cunningham and was able to reach Ciullo, who issued a check for $3,400 as a partial refund dated Nov. 3, 2017, according to the affidavit.
On Nov. 13, the check was returned for insufficient funds. A Grand Jury subpoena was then issued for records relating to Ciullo’s bank account. Records revealed that the day Ciullo wrote the check for $3,400, his account had a balance of $55.10. It was also discovered that between Oct. 23, 2017, the day the account was opened, and Dec. 31, 2017, the account had a high balance of $305.98 and a low balance of negative $3,432.44.
Cuillo had faced such bad check charges just two years prior to that incident. He was charged in a 17-count indictment and pleaded guilty on June 22, 2015 to five counts of theft by deception. Several charges were dismissed in the plea bargain: one count of theft of services, six counts of passing bad checks, and five counts of failure to make the required disposition of funds.
He was sentenced on Aug.14, 2015 by Superior Court Judge Linda Baxter to two years probation and 114 days of time already served in the Ocean County Jail. He was ordered to pay $10,725.85 in restitution.