A politically connected former CEO of a prominent city charity admitted Wednesday he helped steal more than $9 million from the organization 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.
Rapfogel 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 is Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s chief of staff. Both Silver and Rapfogel’s wife, Judy, have said they knew nothing about Rapfogel’s misdeeds.
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, ultimately splitting more than $9 million over 20 years, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.
Rapfogel, 59, will be sentenced to 3 1/3 years to 10 years in prison if he pays more than $3 million in restitution. He already has turned over nearly $1.5 million.
His admission came after two other men pleaded guilty to various charges in the scheme. Together, Rapfogel and others “abused positions of trust to steal millions of dollars from a taxpayer-funded charitable organization, one that is dedicated to serving New York City’s poor,” Schneiderman said in a statement.
Rapfogel is represented by Alan Vinegrad, a partner at Covington & Burling.
After the allegations emerged, several New York City Democratic mayoral candidates returned contributions related to the insurance company, mostly received years ago. Among them was now-Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose campaign gave back $1,650 given in the 2009 election cycle.