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Top Jewish Power Broker Fired Amid Scandal

William Rapfogel let go as CEO of Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty

Yair Rosenberg
August 12, 2013
William Rapfogel.(Joseph Levine, Northeast Queens Jewish Community Council)
William Rapfogel.(Joseph Levine, Northeast Queens Jewish Community Council)

William Rapfogel, widely reputed as one of the chief Jewish power brokers in New York, has been fired from his position as executive director and CEO of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, where he had worked for 21 years. With an annual budget of $27 million, the Met Council is one of the New York Jewish community’s largest social service groups. Rapfogel’s discharge coincides with the revelation that he is under criminal investigation for financial misconduct by the state’s attorney general Eric Schneiderman and comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. The New York Times reports on the still murky details:

Investigators are, among other angles, looking at the relationship between Mr. Rapfogel and Century Coverage Corporation, an insurance company based in Valley Stream, N.Y., according to people familiar with the investigation. Investigators are focusing in particular on generous contributions that the company’s chief executive, Joseph Ross, and other employees have made to candidates for New York City offices. The company’s employees have given almost $120,000 to various candidates since the late 1990s, including $26,175 to several candidates in 2013.

In a statement released by his attorney, Rapfogel—who was compensated over $400,000 in 2011 by the Met council—has apologized for unspecified “mistakes.” His departure marks an abrupt fall from grace for a long-time staple of the Jewish political and philanthropic scene, and a shock to the New York Jewish community he helped lead. Rapfogel had previously served as an aide to Mayor Ed Koch and city comptroller Harrison Goldin, and worked for the American Jewish Congress and the Orthodox Union.

Yair Rosenberg is a senior writer at Tablet. Subscribe to his newsletter, listen to his music, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.