Insurer Charged In Met Council Ripoff; Scam Now Estimated At $7 Million


A Long Island-based insurance broker is the second person charged with defrauding the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty over a span of two decades. Joseph Ross, owner of Century Coverage of Valley Stream, was charged on Wednesday in state Supreme Court with with first degree larceny, money laundering and other crimes and was released without entering a plea.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, working with Comptroller Tom DiNapoli in a joint investgation in response to a tip, alleges that Ross and William Rapfogel, Met Council's longtime executive director, skimmed taxpayer and philanthropic funds from the organization by overbiling for insurance premiums and pocketing part of the difference.

Some of the funds also went to political campaigns of politicians, including those of Christine Quinn, the City Council speaker, and Bill de Blasio, the mayor-elect. Both returned funds linked to Century Coverage employees this summer, when Rapfogel was fired by Met Council after an internal investigation turned up the scheme.

Rapfogel has not denied his involvement in the scheme and issued an apology for unspecified "mistakes" shortly after he was fired.

The charges against Ross, which were first reported by the New York Times Thursday, come as investigators have upwardly revised the amount allegedly stolen from the organization from $5 million to $7 million.

The complaint against Rapfogel said he has turned over aboiut $400,000 in cash to investigators.