William Rapfogel
William Rapfogel ()

The politically connected former CEO of a prominent New York City charity was sentenced to prison Wednesday for helping to steal more than $9 million from the anti-poverty organization.

William Rapfogel, who once headed the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, will serve a term of 40 months to 10 years in a case that rattled New York’s political circles. Authorities linked the decades-long theft to campaign contributions, and both the charity and Rapfogel himself have deep political ties. His wife, who is not accused of any involvement in his scheme, is Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s chief of staff.

“I deeply regret harming the organization that I worked 21 years to build and that I hurt and disappointed many people,” Rapfogel said as he was sentenced. “I have tried hard to make amends, but I also recognize that what I did was seriously wrong and that I will continue to pay a steep price for my actions. I am terribly sorry.”

His wife, Judy, and other supporters looked on as Rapfogel was led out of court, uncuffed, to start serving his term. Rapfogel, who pleaded guilty in April to grand larceny and other charges, also has paid $3 million in restitution.

Rapfogel became the executive director of the Met Council, as it is known, in 1992. He soon joined several conspirators in conniving to overcharge the charity for insurance so they could pocket the difference, state prosecutors said.

“He conspired with others to steal over $9 million, and personally stole over $1 million, from the people who needed it most, to benefit himself and his lifestyle,” Assistant Attorney General Gary Fishman said at the sentencing. Rapfogel was represented by Alan Vinegrad, a partner at Covington & Burling, and Paul Shechtman, a artner with Zuckerman Spaeder.