William Rapfogel’s scheme to steal money from the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty spanned almost the entirety of his tenure as the group’s CEO, according to a felony complaint unsealed in state court today.
Rapfogel, who surrendered himself to a local police precinct Tuesday morning, is accused in the newly filed felony complaint of stealing more than $5 million from the Met Council since 1993. He was named the group’s CEO in 1992.
“The scale and duration of this scheme are breathtaking,” said New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli in a statement. The charges came following an investigation by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and DiNapoli.
The Met Council collects millions every year from Jewish communal donors and government grants to provide services for poor New Yorkers. Some government grants have been frozen in the wake of the allegations against Rapfogel.
According to the complaint, an unnamed co-conspirator at the Met Council colluded with an employee at Century Coverage Corporation, an insurance company, beginning even before Rapfogel was made CEO of the Met Council, to artificially inflate the prices of Century’s insurance plans being sold to the Met Council.
Rapfogel joined the scam with the unnamed co-conspirator when he became CEO of the Met Council and shared the difference between the price of the actual coverage and the amount charged to the Met Council, according to the complaint.
The co-conspirator is said to have cooperated with investigators. It’s not clear if that person is the whistleblower who first drew attention to the scheme.
The scheme allegedly lasted until August 2013. According to the complaint, over $5 million was stolen. More than $1 million allegedly went to Rapfogel himself.
Rapfogel allegedly received the funds in cash-stuffed envelopes. Investigators found more than $400,000 in cash stashed away in his homes.
In addition to pocketing the money, Rapfogel is also accused of directing an employee of Century Coverage to donate to unnamed politicians in a way aimed to benefit the Met Council.
Rapfogel’s wife, Judy Rapfogel, is chief of staff to powerful state Assembly leader Sheldon Silver (D-Lower East Side).
Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.