Herbert Friedman, the former chief financial officer of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, pleaded guilty today to grand larceny and conspiracy charges for his role in the $9 million kickback scheme that has rocked the organization since last August.
Friedman, 80, admitted to illegally receiving around $250,000 from the scheme between the early 1990s and 2009. In exchange for the guilty plea, he must pay $775,000 in restitution and will be sentenced to four months in jail. If he fails to pay the restitution, he could face up to 4-1/2 years in state prison.
“Herb Friedman abused his position of trust to help steal millions of dollars from a taxpayer-funded charitable organization–one dedicated to serving some of New York City’s poorest and most vulnerable residents,” said New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in announcing the guilty plea with State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. “As this case has shown as much as any other, those who rip off taxpayers and charitable organizations will be prosecuted and punished.”
Friedman is the third Met Council official to plead guilty in the high profile case.
William Rapfogel, the former Met Council executive director, and his predecessor, David Cohen, entered guilty pleas in April. Under their leadership, the Met Council paid inflated premiums to its insurer, Century Coverage Corporation, which then sent cash kickbacks to Cohen, Friedman, and later Rapfogel, who joined the scheme shortly after he took the reins of the organization in 1993.
Joseph Ross, the owner of Century Coverage Corporation, admitted his role in the scheme and pleaded guilty in December 2013.
The Met Council provides food, financial assistance, housing, and a range of other services to poor and elderly residents of New York City.