accused of fraud
Story by Dan Hust
MONTICELLO September 27, 2013 A prominent New York charity executive with ties to Sullivan County surrendered to police this week, charged with personally stealing more than $1 million from his now-former employer.
William Rapfogel, former executive director and CEO of the Metropolitan New York Council on Jewish Poverty (commonly known as the Met Council), is accused by state authorities of participating in a scheme that allegedly defrauded the Council of over $5 million.
A criminal complaint filed by the NYS Attorney General’s Office alleges that over the course of much of his 21 years at the nonprofit charity’s helm, Rapfogel and two unidentified co-conspirators deliberately inflated premiums paid to the Council’s insurer, Century Coverage Corporation of Valley Stream, and then took the difference for themselves.
The complaint also alleges that some of that “extra” money was turned into campaign contributions to politicians who were instrumental in providing grants and other taxpayer funding to the Council.
The politicians were not identified, nor have any charges been filed against them. However, Rapfogel’s wife, noted the New York Times, is NYS Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s chief of staff.
Judy Rapfogel has reportedly pled ignorance of the alleged crimes and has not been charged with any wrongdoing.
The Rapfogels have a home in Monticello, and it was there that the Times says state investigators found a portion of $400,000 stuffed in envelopes and allegedly part of the $1 million William Rapfogel had personally gained from the scheme.
He is charged with grand larceny in the first degree, money laundering in the first degree, money laundering in the second degree, four counts of criminal tax fraud in the third degree, conspiracy in the fourth degree, five counts of falsifying business records in the first degree, and three counts of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree, all felonies.
NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli called the alleged fraud “breathtaking” for its scale and duration.
Rapfogel has issued a statement of regret, and his attorney said he will “make amends” to the Council.
Met Council fired Rapfogel in August and released a statement saying it takes the matter “very seriously.” It’s hired a new CEO, former NYC Finance Commissioner David Frankel.
The Council is a respected charity that serves upwards of 100,000 low-income/poor people in the NYC region every year. Services include crisis intervention, legal and immigration assistance, benefits outreach and enrollment, kosher food pantries and vouchers, career training and assistance, domestic violence counseling, affordable housing, home care, and home repairs.
The NY Times says the Council spent $112 million last year in a variety of public- and private-funded charitable efforts.