The Metropolitcan Council on Jewish Poverty ended a long-term relationship with its former executive director on the same day that it fired his successor, William Rapfogel, who has since been charged in a $5 million kickback scheme, the Forward has learned.
Rabbi Dovid Cohen who ran the group in the 1980s, was dumped as a paid fundraising consultant for the Jewish anti-poverty agency in August, an individual familiar with the Met Council said. Because of the ongoing investigation, the source declined to be identified.
Cohen now works as executive director of the Jewish ambulance service Chevra Hatzalah. He was executive director of the New York-based Met Council from 1979 until Rapfogel succeeded him in 1992. Besides his continued work for the agency as an executive consultant, Cohen spoke at its annual Legislative Breakfast in June.
When it fired Rapfogel and disclosed the existence of the alleged scandal, the Met Council made no mention of the move to end its years-long relationship with Cohen.
A statement the agency released August 12 said that its internal investigation had revealed no wrongdoing by current Met Council employees. Cohen was a former employee and a contractor.
Cohen did not respond to numerous messages left on his cell phone. His attorney, Alan Abramson, declined a request for comment.
A felony complaint filed against Rapfogel in Manhattan Criminal Court on September 24 charged him with having stolen $5 million from the Met Council over two decades. But it described a criminal scheme that began even before the Met Council hired Rapfogel.
According to the complaint, a Met Council employee initiated the scheme shortly before Rapfogel became executive director. That employee, who talked to investigators, allegedly brought Rapfogel into the scheme once Rapfogel was hired. The Met Council employee is not identified in the complaint.
Abramson did not respond to an inquiry asking whether Cohen was that employee.
The alleged scheme operated as a simple kickback: The Met Council would overpay for insurance to a company called Century Coverage, then a confederate at the firm would return the money to Rapfogel and his co-conspirator at the Met Council.