The politically connected former CEO of a prominent New York City charity admitted today that he helped steal $5 million in an insurance scheme that authorities linked to campaign contributions. William Rapfogel pleaded guilty to grand larceny, money laundering, and other charges in a case that had rattled city and state political circles. He formerly led the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, which has long enjoyed close ties to politicians and has collected more than $26 million in state and city grants in recent years, and his wife was Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's chief of staff.
Rapfogel became the executive director of the Met Council, as it is known, in 1992. He soon joined several conspirators in conniving to inflate the price of the organization's insurance so they could pocket the overcharge, ultimately splitting more than $5 million over 20 years, said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. He used $27,000 of that money to pay a contractor working on his home, and he had more than $400,000 in cash hidden in his home when investigators searched it in August 2013, Schneiderman said. Rapfogel will be sentenced to 3 1/3 years to 10 years in state prison if he pays more than $3 million in restitution. He already has turned over nearly $1.5 million. Rapfogel also directed a conspirator at an insurance company to use money reaped from the insurance scam to make donations to candidates and political groups on the Met Council's behalf, the attorney general said. The candidates were not named. (Read more grand larceny stories.)