Wednesday, April 23, 2014

As Rapfogel pleads guilty, some potential Forest City connections left a mystery

The New York Times reported today, in Rapfogel Pleads Guilty in Scheme to Loot New York Charity:
A community leader with longtime ties toSheldon Silver, the New York State Assembly speaker, admitted in court on Wednesday that he stole more than $1 million from one of New York City’s most influential social service organizations by colluding with an insurer to inflate bills and skim off cash.
The leader, William E. Rapfogel, 59, who led the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty for two decades, entered a guilty plea before Justice Larry Stephen in State Supreme Court in Manhattan.
The plea marked a stunning downfall for a man once considered one of the city’s most respected philanthropists, whose work and close ties to Mr. Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, gave him influence and prominence in political circles. But in the end, Mr. Rapfogel entered his plea alone: His wife, Judy, the longtime chief of staff to Mr. Silver, was not there, and neither was Mr. Silver.
Mr. Rapfogel sat grim-faced and quiet, reading a well-thumbed copy of the Torah, just before his guilty plea to grand larceny, money laundering, tax fraud and filing false documents to the city campaign finance board.

In exchange for his guilty plea, Mr. Rapfogel will be sentenced to 3⅓ to 10 years in prison and must pay $3 million in restitution; to date, he has repaid $1.8 million. If he fails to pay the full restitution by his sentencing date, July 16, he will be sentenced to four to 12 years in prison, Gary T. Fishman, an assistant attorney general, said in court.

The former chief executive of the council did not apologize publicly as he pleaded guilty and gave only a short explanation of what he had done, saying he had “knowingly helped steal more than $1 million from the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty as part of a scheme in which insurance premiums were overstated.”
Pending questions

However, the Plea Agreement, other Court Information, and the press release do not provide answers to a couple of potential Forest City Ratner connections. While Rapfogel acknowledged giving $350,000 in stolen monies to "my son," the latter is not identified. (An earlier report had the gift at $100,000.) So it's not clear if that son was Michael Rapfogel, who works for Forest City, or one of his brothers.

Also, while Rapfogel's co-defendent David Cohen asked their co-conspirator at insurer Century Coverage Corporation to make campaign contributions--using straw donors, in some cases--to candidates they thought would help the Met Council, there's no explanation regarding specific acts.

As I wrote, it didn't make sense for College Point, NY resident Deborah Auletta, a Century employee, to give $175 to Delia Hunley-Adossa's longshot 2009 challenge to popular 35th District Council incumbent Letitia James, the leading Atlantic Yards opponent. But we don't have an answer at this point.

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