Former Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty CEO William Rapfogel. (Michael Priest)
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Rapfogel Sentenced to up to 10 Years in Prison

Former Met Council chief stole more than $7 million from Jewish charity

by
Stephanie Butnick
July 24, 2014
Former Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty CEO William Rapfogel. (Michael Priest)

William Rapfogel, the disgraced former head of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty who stole millions from the New York-based charity through an elaborate insurance fraud scheme, was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison yesterday, the New York Times reports. Rapfogel, who led the organization for more than 20 years until getting fired in August 2013 during an investigation into financial improprieties, admitted in April to stealing more than $7 million from the charity.

Following the terms of a plea agreement he accepted in April, Mr. Rapfogel paid the remaining balance of $3 million he owed in restitution and was sentenced to 3 1/3 to 10 years in prison by Justice Larry Stephen of State Supreme Court. He had faced a slightly longer sentence of four to 12 years if he could not pay the full amount.

The Met Council gets the bulk of its funding from state and city government, but also receives donations from private sources.

Rapfogel’s unceremonious downfall was shocking to the Jewish non-profit world—as the Times notes, the former power broker schmoozed politicians and business figures alike with what they term an “earnest charisma.” It’s also a horrifyingly ironic tale of hubris: the head of a charity organization (who was earning a not so paltry $400,000 annual salary) bilking its funds for his own benefit and for political purposes.

And now, his saga is over—though for the Met Council, the damage inflicted by its longtime leader will likely take more than 3 and 1/3 to 10 years to undue.

Stephanie Butnick is deputy editor of Tablet Magazine and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.

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