Criminal Complaint: Rapfogel Stole $5 Million From Met Council
More now on this morning’s stunning news regarding Lower East Side “power broker” William Rapfogel.
The former head of the Met Council on Jewish Poverty was arrested today and charged in connection with a $5 million money laundering scheme that authorities allege spanned over two decades.
The charges include: first-degree grand larceny, first- and second-degree money laundering, four counts of third-degree criminal tax fraud, fourth-degree conspiracy, five counts of first-degree falsifying of business records, and three first-degree counts of offering a false instrument for filing. Rapfogel is accused of padding payments to the Met Council’s insurance carrier and funneling campaign donations to elected officials. An updated story in the New York Times has more details:
State authorities investigating the scheme found more than $400,000 in cash squirreled away in the homes of the community leader… Mr. Rapfogel’s history at the organization, the Metropolitan New York Council on Jewish Poverty, where he was a figure of such prominence and respect that he was often referred to as the Prince of the Jews, was mired in fraud from almost the moment he took the helm in 1992, according to a criminal complaint filed in the case. It was a history, according to the complaint, of cash kickbacks passed in envelopes and a slush fund that funneled campaign contributions to politicians who provided government grants to the nonprofit organization. (The investigation) focused quickly on allegations that Mr. Rapfogel conspired with Met Council’s insurance broker, Century Coverage Corporation… (and) determined that Mr. Rapfogel, shortly after becoming Met Council’s executive director in 1992, agreed to participate in a scheme with others to inflate the cost of the organization’s insurance policies, officials said… Over the course of the conspiracy, various candidates for New York City, New York State and federal elective offices received tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from Century owners and employees. None of the politicians have been accused of any impropriety.
Rapfogel was released on $100,000 bail. Today his lawyer, Paul L. Shechtman, said, “Mr. Rapfogel hopes for a fair resolution of this case and will continue to make amends to Met Council. It’s a sad day, but happily people who know Willie well are still in his corner.”