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Ex-Met Council chief William Rapfogel pleads guilty in scam, faces prison

JTA

April 23, 2014 | 10:52 am

William Rapfogel, left, then the head of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg attending the social service agency’s annual legislative breakfast, June 2008. (Metropolitan Council)

William Rapfogel, left, then the head of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg attending the social service agency’s annual legislative breakfast, June 2008. (Metropolitan Council)

William Rapfogel, the ousted leader of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty in New York, pleaded guilty to first-degree larceny for his role in a scheme to steal more than $7 million from the social service agency.

Rapfogel, 59, who had served as CEO and president of the Met Council from 1992 until he was fired last August, entered a guilty plea on Wednesday in New York state Supreme Court in Manhattan. His plea deal calls for a three- to 10-year prison sentence and paying back $3 million to the Met Council by July 16, according to a press release issued by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

David Cohen, Rapfogel’s predecessor at the council, also pleaded guilty for his role in the scam. Cohen, who is 70, will be sentenced to between one and a half to four and a half years in prison and has agreed to pay $650,000 in restitution by July 9.

Rapfogel was fired after financial irregularities were discovered in an investigation initiated by the Met Council’s board of directors. Schneiderman and DiNapoli then opened a probe.

Rapfogel was arrested in September and charged with grand larceny and money laundering.

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

Rapfogel inflated the Met Council’s health insurance payments by several hundred thousand dollars a year and then split the proceeds with politicians who supplied grants to the agency. An annual breakfast he hosted drew many influential political figures.

The Met Council provides employment services, crisis intervention, emergency food and other programs for poor Jewish households.

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