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Guilty pleas by former Met Council directors for stealing $9m in kickback scheme

NEW YORK – The former executive director and chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty (Met Council), William Rapfogel, 59, and David Cohen, 70, also a former executive director of the council, both face prison time after pleading guilty to multiple felony charges for stealing, together with other co-conspirators, approximately $9 million from the taxpayer-funded nonprofit organization in a 20-year grand larceny and kickback scheme.

Cohen admitted illegally receiving approximately $650,000 in cash kickbacks and payments for personal expenses. Rapfogel admitted that between January 1993 and August 2013, while working with Cohen, Joseph Ross of the insurance company Century Coverage Corporation and others, he stole in excess of $1 million from Met Council.  

“These defendants 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,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said. “Those who rip off taxpayers and charitable organizations will be prosecuted. While New York has the greatest nonprofit sector in the country, this case reminds us that we must vigilantly protect it. I want to thank Comptroller DiNapoli for his continued partnership in our mission to root out public corruption and ensure that taxpayer money is protected. I also thank the Met Council board of directors for bringing this activity to light and cooperating with our investigation.”

State Comptroller DiNapoli said, “This was a troubling and sad case of personal gain at the expense of important community services. I commend Attorney General Schneiderman and his staff for their diligence in prosecuting this matter and recovering millions of dollars in stolen funds.  We will continue to work with the Attorney General through our Joint Task Force to root out public corruption.” 

Rapfogel pleaded guilty in New York County Supreme Court to grand larceny in the first degree, money laundering in the second degree, criminal tax fraud in the third degree and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree. All charges are felonies. 

In exchange for his guilty plea, Rapfogel will be sentenced to 3 1/3 to 10 years in prison and will pay $3 million in restitution. If he fails to pay the restitution by his sentencing date, July 16, he will be sentenced to 4 to 12 years in prison.

Cohen pleaded guilty to grand larceny in the first degree, grand larceny in the third degree and conspiracy in the fourth degree. In exchange for his guilty plea, Cohen will be sentenced up to 1 1/2 to 4 1/2 years in prison and agreed to pay $650,000 in restitution