William Rapfogel, the former CEO of Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty who was arrested in September 2013 on charges of grand larceny and money laundering, pleaded guilty today in New York’s State Supreme Court. The New York Times reports that Rapfogel, who led the organization for more than 20 years until getting fired in August 2013 during the investigation, admitted to stealing more than $7 million from the charity.
Also charged was Rapfogel’s predeccessor at the Council, David Cohen, who pleaded guilty today as well—suggesting that the fraud potentially spanned decades. The sceme involved the Met Council’s insurance company, Century Coverage Corporation, which would inflate the Council’s insurance rates by hundreds of thousands of dollars, which Rapfogel and his co-conspirators would then keep for themselves. Century’s owner pleaded guilty to grand larceny, money laundering, and tax fraud in December 2013.
The case has gotten increased attention due to Rapfogel’s longtime ties to New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who Newsday reports was Rapfogel’s youth basketball coach. Rapfogel’s wife, Judy, has served as Silver’s chief of staff for many years. Silver has since distanced himself from Rapfogel.
Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.