Politically connected charity power broker William Rapfogel was taken into custody in Manhattan state court Wednesday after being sentenced to 3-1/3 to 10 years in prison for his role in a kickback scheme while heading the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty.
Rapfogel is a longtime friend of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and his wife, Judith, who attended the sentencing, is Silver's chief of staff. He was sentenced under the terms of an April plea bargain that also called on him to repay $3 million.
"I have tried hard to make amends," a subdued Rapfogel said to Justice Larry Stephen just before he was taken away by court officers. "But I also recognize that what I did was seriously wrong and that I will pay a heavy price for my actions. I am terribly sorry."
Rapfogel was accused by Attorney Gen. Eric Schneiderman of conspiring with insurance executive Joseph Ross of Valley Stream for more than 20 years to inflate the Metropolitan Council's premiums and take kickbacks from the excess profits.
He pleaded guilty in April to grand larceny, money laundering, tax fraud, and making false campaign finance filings to hide the diversion of some kickbacks into city political races. Ross, and Rapfogel's predecessor at the Council, have also pleaded guilty.
Prosecutor Gary Fishman told Stephen that although the scheme cost the Council $9 million, Rapfogel had continued to minimize his crime in private encounters.
"This sentence is warranted given the nature of the defendant's conduct and his lack of contrition," Fishman said. "He was entrusted to safeguard tens of millions of dollars to help underprivileged New Yorkers. Instead he conspired with others to steal $9 million and personally stole $3 million to benefit his lifestyle."
Judith Rapfogel and her husband's defense lawyers did not comment after the sentencing.