Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Former Met Council Leader, Wm. Rapfogel, Enters Guilty Plea in Corruption Case

Following guilty plea convictions of Rapfogel and Cohen, Attorney General's investigation into public corruption continues.

Christine Quinn William Rapfogel Met Council Discretionary Funds New York City Council Slush Funds Corruption Investigation photo christine-quinn-william-rapfogel-crop_zps2d228203.jpg

William Rapfogel, the former leader of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, pled guilty today in state court to charges of "grand larceny, money laundering, tax fraud," and filing false documents with the city's campaign finance regulatory authority, the Campaign Finance Board, The New York Times reported today, adding that the guilty plea followed Mr. Rapfogel's arrest last September on charges of "grand larceny, money laundering, conspiracy and other crimes in a criminal complaint filed by the state attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman."

Mr. Rapfogel's predecessor, David Cohen, entered into his own guilty pleas to charges of grand larceny and conspiracy. Both men laundered some of their illicit gains into campaign contributions with the intention of manipulating the public matching dollar system of the city's Campaign Finance Board. "Mr. Cohen said he and Mr. Rapfogel also funneled some of the illicit money to candidates running for office, asking Mr. Ross to make contributions not only in his name but also in the names of straw donors," The New York Times report added. A press release from the Attorney General's office noted that, "These campaign contributions were made to politicians whom Rapfogel and Cohen believed could help Met Council."

Mere hours after bloggers had noted on August 12 of last year that Mr. Rapfogel's charity had received discretionary funding from former Council Speaker Christine Quinn's slush fund, former Speaker Quinn's mayoral campaign announced that her campaign was returning $25,000 in campaign donations at the center of the William Rapfogel scandal.

The Attorney General's press release of today concluded that, "These convictions are a result of an ongoing investigation by the Attorney General’s Office in conjunction with New York State Comptroller DiNapoli, as part of the Joint Task Force on Public Integrity. The joint investigation by the Attorney General’s and Comptroller’s offices continues."

Let's hope former Speaker Quinn has a good defense attorney.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has said that a "show me the money" culture pervades all of New York government, and many bloggers and government reform activists agree. Last year, the political blogger and YouTube producer Suzannah B. Troy confronted New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who has had a decades-long close association with Mr. Rapfogel, and she asked Speaker Silver, "Are you part of the corruption ?"

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