Following Rapfogel Charges, Reporters Zero in On Grand Street Apartment

Following the arrest of William Rapfogel on charges that he allegedly stole funds from the Met Council, attention has shifted to his wife, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s chief of staff, as well as the Rapfogel family’s Lower East Side apartment.

Judy Rapfogel, Sheldon Silver visit with residents at the Seward Park Co-op in 2009,

Judy Rapfogel, Sheldon Silver visit with residents at the Seward Park Co-op in 2009,

The Daily News reports:

The former head of a major New York City Jewish charity stole more than $1 million and stashed $400,000 in cash in his two New York homes — but his wife insists she knew nothing about it. Judy Rapfogel, wife of alleged thief William Rapfogel and the chief of staff to powerful state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, insisted to friends that she was blindsided by her husband’s actions.  But a day after William Rapfogel turned himself in on charges of stealing from the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty as part of a 20-year, $5 million kickback scheme, investigators and Albany insiders were focused on whether his politically connected wife had any knowledge of the scam.  “It certainly is an interesting question,” said a source familiar with the probe… Sources familiar with the ongoing probe would not say whether the investigation by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Controller Thomas DiNapoli would look at Judy Rapfogel or her powerful boss… Sources close to the case say Judy Rapfogel has not been questioned by investigators and has not hired her own lawyer.  Paul Shechtman, William Rapfogel’s lawyer, said his client’s wife was in the dark. “Categorically, Judy and Sheldon Silver had no knowledge of any wrongdoing,” he said.

The story featured a photo of Rapfogel’s home at the East River Co-op, which has apparently been undergoing renovations since August.  The article notes that authorities believe he “stuffed some of his ill-gotten gains in the bedroom closet of the couple’s lower East Side apartment.” The criminal complaint alleges that $27,000 in stolen funds was used to pay a contractor doing work this year in the “defendant’s home.”  But the document does not specify whether the work mentioned was being done in the Grand Street apartment, or another property.

A reporter for the newspaper, Haaretz, spoke with Heshy Jacob, the chairman of the United Jewish Council of the East Side, which is affiliated with the Met Council.  Jacob is also the longtime general manager of the East River and Hillman cooperatives. He told Haaretz that William Rapfogel was present at the Bialystoker Synagogue Monday, just as he has been most days for the past 40 years:

I saw he was very troubled. He’s totally broken, that I could tell…  This is a very good man that did a lot of good throughout his entire life, did total chesed, and it appears… he made a mistake. There are dozens of cases where he personally intervened, if I called him at 2:00 in the morning that someone in Brooklyn had their electricity turned off because they couldn’t pay the bill, by the following morning the money was raised to get the electricity back on again. I have great pity for him and his family, for the unfortunate situation. I just pray that he has the strength to withstand it, because he’s done so much good for the entire Jewish community… I have to judge Willie by all the good that he did. I’m not going to judge him one sided, but in the totality of what he did in his life, and I hope God does too.

Meanwhile, other reporters have been looking at the campaign contributions of Century Coverage Corp., the insurance firm that allegedly conspired with Rapfogel. The Albany Times Union reported Silver received $5000 from the company. The Met Council has $80 million in state contracts.

Yesterday, Silver’s spokesman, Michael Whyland, said the Speaker has no plans to fire Judy Rapfogel, who earns about $165,000 per year.  “She has not been implicated in the matter and she is staying,” he told the News.

  • Cherrybomb

    “Good” people don’t steal, especially from a non-profit, and the embezzlement of $5M was no accident or “mistake” – it was a calculated act of greed and politic. Those $5M in funds that did not go to provide services, and instead lined the pockets of all involved. Jacob’s statements don’t to much to dissuade the idea of corruption in coop management and that he believes corruption and mismanagement of corporate/organizational funds is fine and dandy if you are believed to be a “good” person.

  • Bowerygals

    I keep thinking of the fragile, abandoned elders who were tossed out of their home, the Bialystoker nursing home, for want of a patron who might help….just the kind of thing for a poverty organization to do….those millions could have made ALL the difference….

  • Raul gonzales L.E.S

    Silver steps on sh*t again, how many breaks does he get? I bet if he was black or latin he would’ve been crucify!!!!