Ex-chief of Jewish poverty council to plead guilty in NY financial scam

William Rapfoge will reportedly plead guilty for his role in a scheme to steal more than $7 million from the social service agency.

April 24, 2014 02:57
2 minute read.
William Rapfogel

William Rapfogel, the ousted leader of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty in New York. (photo credit: METROPOLITAN COUNCIL)


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NEW YORK – William Rapfogel, the ousted leader of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty in New York, will reportedly plead guilty for his role in a scheme to steal more than $7 million from the social service agency.

He will likely receive a sentence of between three and 10 years in prison.

The 59-year-old Rapfogel, who had served as CEO and president of the Met Council since 1992, was scheduled to enter a guilty plea in State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Wednesday morning before judge Larry Stephen, The New York Times reported.

In addition to the prison sentence, he is expected to pay a “substantial restitution,” but the exact plea agreement is confidential.

David Cohen, his predecessor at the council, is also scheduled to plead guilty for his role in the scheme, according to the Times, which cited people familiar with the case.

Rapfogel was fired in August 2013 after an investigation that the Met Council’s board of directors initiated revealed financial irregularities. New York State Attorney-General Eric Schneiderman and the State Comptroller’s Office then opened a probe.

Allegedly Rapfogel inflated the Met Council’s health insurance payments by several hundred thousand dollars a year, and then used the extra cash from the leftover margin to make donations to politicians and political organizations in the names of the employees of the insurance company, Century Coverage.

The owner of Century Coverage pleaded guilty to grand larceny, money laundering and tax fraud in December.

Rapfogel was also accused of manipulating New York City’s fund-matching program – which gives political candidates six dollars for every $175 that an individual donates – in order to increase contributions to politicians who gave government grants to the Met Council, the Times reported.

The accused is extremely close with New York State Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver; Rapfogel’s wife, Judy, is Silver’s chief of staff. Silver is one of the politicians rumored to have benefited from Rapfogel’s scheme, but Silver and Judy Rapfogel have maintained that they were ignorant of the former Met Council head’s activities.

Silver’s spokespeople had no immediate comment.

Much of the cash raised for insurance simply landed in Rapfogel’s hands. Investigators say he stashed around $372,000 in the East Side co-op and Monticello home he owns with his wife, The New York Daily News reported. His annual salary at the Met Council was $400,000.

He was arrested in September and charged with grand larceny, money laundering, criminal tax fraud, conspiracy, falsifying business records and offering a false instrument for filing.

“I deeply regret the mistakes I have made that led to my departure from the organization,” he said following his ouster by the social service agency.

The Met Council’s statement at the time said that the organization was conducting its own investigation and that its board “takes these matters very seriously.”

On September 30, the agency announced that David M. Frankel, the former commissioner for the city Department of Finance under mayor Michael Bloomberg, would take over as executive director and CEO.

Rapfogel was a high-profile figure in the New York Jewish philanthropic world. He hosted an annual legislative breakfast ahead of the Israel Day Parade, that drew many influential political figures, including Bloomberg and New York senator Chuck Schumer.

The Met Council provides employment services, crisis intervention, emergency food and other programs for poor Jewish households. It did not respond to a request for comment.

JTA contributed to this report.

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