Two more charged in $5M Rapfogel case

Two more people were charged Tuesday in the case involving $5 million taken from the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty while William Rapfogel was in charge.

The case prosecuted by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is closely watched in Albany because Rapfogel's wife is the longtime chief of staff to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan). Silver and William Rapfogel are close friends. Neither Silver nor his chief of staff, Judy Rapfogel, have been accused of any role in the case.

A felony complaint released Tuesday accused David Cohen and Herbert Friedman in the case in which Schneiderman has said $5 million was taken from the charity over 20 years. Schneiderman claims some kickbacks were used for political contributions. The scheme involved a Valley Stream insurance company, according to investigators.

Cohen served as the council's executive director from 1989 to 1992 and executive vice president from 1992 to 1995. He then was a consultant to the charity until August 2013.

Friedman was chief financial officer of the charity from 1991 to 2009.

Both were arraigned Tuesday in Manhattan. They pleaded not guilty and were ordered to surrender their passports.

Schneiderman declined to comment.

Cohen's lawyer, Alan Abramson, also declined to comment. Friedman's attorney, Sharon Feldman, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The attorney general's complaint accuses Cohen and Friedman of conspiring with Rapfogel to inflate the charity's insurance premiums in order to steal from the organization. The complaint cites testimony from Joseph Ross, owner of the Long Island insurance company called Century Coverage Corp.

Ross pleaded guilty in December to grand larceny and money laundering.

The extra premium payments served as kickbacks to the conspirators, Schneiderman alleged in court records. The felony complaint says contributions worth tens of thousands of dollars were made since the 1990s to city, state and federal candidates, including more than $120,000 from Century employees to New York City politicians.

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