Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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Former Jewish Charity Head Arraigned On Fraud Charges

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The former leader of a major nonprofit organization, who has close ties to politicians across the city and state, was arrested and accused of grand larceny and money laundering on Tuesday. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.

William Rapfogel had been leading the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty for 20 years, but on Tuesday morning, he was led out in handcuffs.

Rapfogel was arrested and accused of money laundering, grand larceny and conspiracy as part of an investigation by the state attorney general and comptroller.

The former nonprofit leader, who lost his job last month, is accused of inflating the nonprofit group's payments to an insurance company.

Rapfogel allegedly then pocked the cash, which allegedly amounts to more than $1 million. It was supposed to go to social services.

The Met Council is one of the largest social service providers in the city and gets millions of dollars in city and state funding.

"If the allegations against Willie Rapfogel are true, as he'll be prosecuted in the court, then he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and have the book thrown at him," said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

Exiting court, Rapfogel did not speak, but his attorney, Paul Shechtman, made a brief statement.

"Mr. Rapfogel very much hopes for a fair resolution of this case and continues to make amends to Met Council. It's been a hard day, but fortunately, the people that know Willie the best remain in his corner," Shechtman said.

It is unclear if that include State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Silver is extremely close to Rapfogel, and Rapfogel's wife is Silver's chief of staff.

Silver's office would not comment on the arrest.

Rapfogel is accused of using the cash to pay for a home contractor, and according to the attorney general's office, in August, investigators found $400,000 in cash hidden in his homes.

Rapfogel also allegedly directed the insurance company to donate to city politicians in the hopes of currying favor and funding for the nonprofit group.

Employees have donated about $120,000 to city campaigns, including Bill de Blasio's 2009 bid for public advocate.

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