Met Council’s former insurance brokers sentenced in $9 million scheme

Julie Wiener

NEW YORK (JTA) — Two former insurance brokers for the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty have been sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay $1.5 million each in restitution.

Solomon Ross and William Lieber, who together with the nonprofit’s former CEO William Rapfogel stole approximately $9 million in a 20-year scheme, will also surrender their broker’s licenses, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced Friday.

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Both Ross and Lieber, insurance brokers for the now defunct Century Coverage Corporation, pled guilty to grand larceny, criminal tax fraud and conspiracy.

A Jewish social service organization that assists poor and elderly New Yorkers of all backgrounds, Met Council’s main funding comes from government sources, but it also receives support from individual philanthropists and is a beneficiary agency of UJA-Federation of New York.

The $9 million scheme, which dates back to 1992, was created by Ross’ brother and Century Coverage leader Joseph Ross and former Met Council CEO David Cohen. Met Council knowingly paid inflated insurance premiums to the company in exchange for cash kickbacks to Cohen and former Met Council Chief Financial Officer Herb Friedman. When Rapfogel became CEO, he continued the scheme.

All six defendants charged in connection to the scheme have pleaded guilty, the attorney general’s office said in a news release. In July 2014, Rapfogel was sentenced to 3 1/3 to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay $3 million in restitution. Herb Friedman was convicted and sentenced to four months in jail, and ordered to pay $775,000 in restitution. Joseph Ross is expected to be sentenced on March 9, 2015, to 18 months in jail along with restitution for the monies he stole, the AG’s office said.