Valley Stream insurance principal named in fraud case
ALBANY -- A principal of a Valley Stream-based insurance agency is one of the unnamed co-conspirators in an alleged bribery scheme involving the influential Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, sources confirmed Friday.
In an indictment unveiled this week, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman charged former Met Council executive director William Rapfogel with multiple counts of grand larceny, money laundering, criminal tax fraud and conspiracy. Schneiderman alleged that Rapfogel "directed an owner" of Century Coverage Corp. of Valley Stream to overcharge Met Council for insurance payments for about 20 years and pocketed the difference.
That owner, identified as "co-conspirator No. 2" in the criminal complaint, is Joseph Ross, a source close to the investigation said. The other co-conspirator is Rabbi David Cohen, who preceded Rapfogel as executive director of Met Council, the source also confirmed.
Neither Ross nor Cohen have been charged in the case. The New York Times first identified the alleged co-conspirators. The Jewish Daily Forward reported that Met Council had dismissed Cohen as one of its contracted fundraisers the day Rapfogel was indicted.
Benjamin Brafman, attorney for Ross, wasn't available Friday, an assistant said. When Rapfogel was indicted on Tuesday, Brafman said: "I have no comment other than we are aware of the investigation and we intend to address these issues in a responsible fashion."
Alan Abramson, Cohen's lawyer, declined to comment Friday.
Schneiderman said Rapfogel conspired with others to inflate insurance payments paid by Met Council, a major nonprofit social services group in Manhattan, while pocketing the difference between the inflated costs and actual costs. The funds stolen from the organization amounted to more than $5 million over roughly 20 years, Schneiderman said.
Some of the money was funneled by Rapfogel and employees of Century Coverage into campaign contributions to various politicians, Schneiderman alleged.
Schneiderman said Rapfogel "received about $1 million himself and shared the remainder with his co-conspirators."The criminal complaint doesn't spell out precisely how the money was divided.