Friday, May 09, 2014

Calculation behind charity? Despite scandal, Ratner sticks with the Met Council

Guess what: despite the conviction of nonprofit executive William Rapfogel, who admitted to stealing more than $1 million from the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, developer Bruce Ratner--who hired a Rapfogel son--remains a major donor.

As reported in the Forward's Can Met Council on Jewish Poverty Recover From William Rapfogel Scandal?, Ratner was listed as a benefactor in a recent Food for Life fundraiser, which raised $350,000 and, in contrast with past events, did not feature gladhanding local politicians. At that point, Rapfogel had yet to plead guilty.

So, is Ratner really a generous guy, committed to helping an organization that serves a broad, needy constituency? Maybe.

But there's often calculation behind charity, and surely Ratner wants to maintain good relations with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, long close to the charity. (Silver has since cut ties with Willie Rapfogel; the latter's wife Judy Rapfogel remains Silver's chief of staff.)


The Forward reported 5/5/14:
The rot went deep at Met Council: Rapfogel’s predecessor, David Cohen, pleaded guilty to stealing $650,000. Herb Friedman, Met Council’s chief financial officer for 18 years, has also been charged.
Most of Met Council’s top leadership has been replaced since August. But the new leaders have been tight-lipped about their plans to rehabilitate the muddied group.
The Associated Press reported 5/6/14:
Herbert Friedman, ex-chief financial officer of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, admitted in state court that he received about $250,000 in the kickback scheme with insurance payments between the early 1990s and 2009.
....The 80-year-old Friedman is expected to pay $775,000 in restitution before sentencing June 17 and face four months in jail.

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