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Ex-CEO gets prison for stealing from noted New York City charity; has repaid $3 million

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NEW YORK, N.Y. - The politically connected former CEO of a prominent New York City charity was sentenced to prison Wednesday for helping to steal more than $9 million from the anti-poverty organization.

William Rapfogel, who once headed the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, will serve a term of 40 months to 10 years. His wife and other supporters looked on as he was led out of court, uncuffed, to start serving his term.

He pleaded guilty in April to grand larceny, money laundering and other charges in a case that rattled city and state political circles.

He also has paid $3 million in restitution.

Rapfogel became the executive director of the Met Council, as it is known, in 1992. He soon joined several conspirators in conniving to overcharge the charity for insurance so they could pocket the difference, state prosecutors said.

"Over a 20-year period of time, he conspired with others to steal over $9 million, and personally stole over $1 million, from the people who needed it most, to benefit himself and his lifestyle," Assistant Attorney General Gary Fishman said at the sentencing.

He used $27,000 of that money to pay a contractor working on his home, and he had more than $400,000 in cash hidden in his home when investigators searched it in August 2013, authorities said.

"I deeply regret harming the organization that I worked 21 years to build and that I hurt and disappointed many people," Rapfogel told the court. "I have tried hard to make amends, but I also recognize that what I did was seriously wrong and that I will continue to pay a steep price for my actions. I am terribly sorry."

Insurance company owner Joseph Ross and former Met Council Executive Director David Cohen previously pleaded guilty in the scheme.

After the allegations emerged, several New York City Democratic mayoral candidates decided to return contributions related to the insurance company, mostly received years ago. Among them was now-Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose campaign gave back $1,650 given in the 2009 election cycle.

His wife is Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's chief of staff. No official made any connection between the donations and Silver's office; both Silver and Rapfogel's wife, Judy, have said they knew nothing about Rapfogel's misdeeds.

Rapfogel was fired in August from the $340,000-a-year job.

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