May 19, 2015
By Neal Tepel
New York, NY–The former executive director in the infamous Met Council kickback scheme has been sentenced to jail time. Millions were stolen over 20-years from an important nonprofit agency in a case the shocked the city.
David Cohen acceped a sentence of one year in jail and a fine of $650,000. He pled guilty to Money Laundering in the Third Degree and Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree. As part of his guilty plea, Cohen admitted that from 1992 to 2013, he conspired with co-defendant William Rapfogel and others to steal from Met Council through an elaborate kickback scheme.
Cohen is the last of six conspirators to be sentenced for his role in the theft. Nine million that was stolen has been returned to the Met Council. The not-for-profit provides a range of services for poor New Yorkers including housing, food and emergency financial assistance.
"This sentencing concludes a distressing and lengthy theft of funds meant to help New York's neediest citizens," said State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. "I hope these six prosecutions, and nearly $9 million in restitution, will serve as a warning to those who might contemplate similar behavior."
The conspiracy began in 1992, when Cohen devised a scheme with Joseph Ross of Century Coverage Corporation, an insurance company. Century Coverage Corporation would submit inflated invoices for insurance coverage. In 1993, William Rapfogel took over as the head of Met Council and also began receiving kickbacks.
In July 2014, William Rapfogel was convicted and sentenced to 3 1/3 to 10 years in prison, and ordered to pay $3 million in restitution to Met Council. Herb Friedman was convicted and sentenced to four months in jail, and ordered to pay $775,000 in restitution to Met Council. In February 2015, Solomon Ross and William Lieber, former insurance brokers for Met Council, were each sentenced to five years of probation and $1.5 million in restitution. In March 2015, Joseph Ross was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in jail, $534,000 in restitution to Met Council, and a judgment in the amount of $956,000 in favor of Met Council.
"We have finally held all of the Met Council conspirators accountable for their roles in this massive theft, which ripped off some of the neediest New Yorkers,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “With this case, as well as the cases that we have brought against more than 60 other public officials and their cronies, our message is clear: No matter who you are, if you steal from New York charities that receive taxpayer dollars, you will face justice. Through my partnership with Comptroller DiNapoli, we will continue to pursue anyone who violates the public’s trust."