Disgraced New York charity head charged with conspiracy

Former head of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, is charged with stealing more than $5 million from the charity.

Gavel from Reuters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Chip East)
Gavel from Reuters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Chip East)
NEW YORK – William Rapfogel, former head of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, was arrested and arraigned on September 24 in New York.
He is charged with stealing more than $5 million from the charity, and putting approximately $1m. of that money toward personal use. Authorities say much of the rest of the money was used for political contributions and purposes.
Rapfogel is charged with one count of grand larceny, two counts of money laundering and one count of criminal tax fraud, as well as conspiracy, falsifying business records, and “offering a false instrument for filing.”
New York Attorney-General Eric Schneiderman said Rapfogel had directed the Met Council’s insurance agent to overcharge the Met for insurance, and then “pocketed the difference,” Newsday of Long Island reported.
Rapfogel claims that the theft and corruption with which he is charged is endemic to the council, and that it began months before he was hired 21 years ago.
The New York Times named Rabbi David Cohen, Rapfogel’s predecessor at the Met Council, and Joseph Ross, the owner of Century Coverage, as coconspirators.
Neither has been formally charged.
In a statement released on Tuesday through his lawyer Paul Shechtman, Rapfogel said he “very much hopes for a fair resolution to this case and [he will] continue to make amends to Met Council. It’s been a hard day, but fortunately, the people that know me the best remain in my corner.”
New York City Council speaker Christine Quinn said in a statement, “People need those services, and if the allegations against Willie Rapfogel are true, as will be prosecuted in the court, then he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and they should throw the book at him.”
“The accusations and the admissions thus far are truly disturbing, and the attorneygeneral, I think, is doing the right thing, and we should pursue the matter to the fullest extent of the law,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, in his first public statement on the scandal.
Rapfogel had many highlevel political connections.
His wife, Judy, is the chief of staff to New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. She has denied any knowledge of her husband’s wrongdoing.
Rapfogel himself was a staffer for former New York City mayor Edward I. Koch. Rapfogel hosted an annual legislative breakfast ahead of the Israel Day Parade, which this year took place on June 2 and included most of the major candidates for New York City mayor, and in the past has included attendees such as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Sen. Charles Schumer.
The Metropolitan Council announced on August 12 that Rapfogel had been fired. At the time, he was being investigated for misappropriating funds for political donations, but had not been arraigned or arrested.