A US philanthropist who was allegedly the victim of an attempted $1 million swindle by a young Israeli woman who recently married him is a major donor to causes in Israel and in 2016 received an award from the Jewish National Fund (JNF).
Tampa businessman Richard Marc Rappaport, 77, married 26-year-old Lin Helena Halfon, originally from Israel, in August. Halfon was arrested earlier this month on charges alleging she tried to cash almost $1 million in checks from him.
Halfon is facing charges of money laundering, organized fraud and exploitation of an elderly person. During her first court appearance, a judge set her bail at $1 million.
The Tampa Bay Times reported that when Rappaport was notified by investigators about what his wife was doing, he initially said wanted to give his wife the benefit of the doubt, according to a warrant affidavit.
— New York Post (@nypost) December 27, 2019
He said he did not want her to be deported to her native Israel. Asked later if he felt he was the victim of fraud and theft, Rappaport told investigators, “yes,” according to the arrest warrant.
Halfon told investigators she had mailed the checks to her sister in Israel after a fight with Rappaport, but was having them sent back, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Police were originally tipped off about the suspected fraud by an Amscot employee in Tampa who refused to cash the checks. Eventually, two checks worth about $666,000 together were cashed by an Orlando man in New Jersey.
Rappaport’s daughter, Dayna Titus, said in an arrest affidavit that family members were unaware of the marriage.
“Titus believed that Halfon was ‘conning’ Rappaport due to his age,” FDLE Special Agent Victoria Morris wrote in the affidavit.
Halfon’s attorney, Todd Foster, claimed the couple had a valid marriage, saying: “We look forward to bringing forward additional facts to bring clarity to this situation.”
In a Times of Israel blog post in 2014, Titus wrote about her father, saying Rappaport “went to Israel for the first time as a teenager, soon after Israel became a state. He eventually became a major donor to the Jewish National Fund and supports many JNF projects in Israel including the Sderot Indoor Playground, Aleh-Negev, and the Alexander Muss High School.”
Titus said she had followed in her father’s footsteps: “After my first trip to Israel, I ‘invested’ in this amazing country myself by becoming a Sapphire Society member with JNF, and now I sit on my regional board. It’s not just my money that is in Israel — it’s my heart.”
Crazy fun on the wall in Sdirot Israel. . Indoor playground/ bomb shelter near Gaza
Rappaport and Titus both came to Israel during the 2014 Gaza War as part of a “solidarity mission” organized by JNF, as cities in the Jewish state was targeted by hundreds of rockets launched daily by Gaza terrorists.
“We spent much time in the south, the part of Israel that has been most affected,” Titus wrote at the time. “Beersheba, Haluza, Ofakim, Shlomit, etc. Many of the residents of these wonderful start-up communities have no shelters or too few shelters. One day we volunteered in a daycare center in the south, making packages for soldiers and painting the day care building, and in the time we were there we had three missile attacks.”
Rappaport is a cycling enthusiast and has participating in many cycling events in Israel. His Facebook account has many photos from his visits to the Jewish state, including in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Sderot and Beersheba.
In 2016, Rappaport received JNF’s Tree of Life Award at its annual dinner.
In its short bio about him, the JNF wrote: “A committed Zionist, honoree Richard Marc Rappaport of Tampa recently traveled to Israel on JNF’s ‘$1 Billion Roadmap Mission’ with the Task Force on Disabilities, and will be participating later this year in the Israel Bike Ride, a five-day event that covers the length of the country and benefits JNF and other organizations in Israel. He is the president of Panther Medical, a national medical device distributor. His daughter Dayna inherited his commitment to Israel, serving as member of JNF’s Sapphire Society and sits on the San Francisco JNF board.”
AP contributed to this report.