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Julie Levine, former Suffolk shelter operator, seeks to become a teacher

Julie Levine, former chief executive officer of a homeless shelter organization that was ousted after a Suffolk County audit found her organization overcharged the county by $3.6 million, is seeking a new career.

Her job search came to light after a state education official sought records of the Long Island Women’s Empowerment Network from the Suffolk County Department of Social Services and the county comptroller because Levine was looking to become a teacher.

In a July 19 letter, Martin Burke, senior State Education Department attorney, said his agency was requesting records from Social Services and the comptroller to help “evaluate the moral character of Julie Levine, the former CEO of LIWEN, who is seeking a New York State teaching certificate to work with school children and school personnel.”

The network was removed as operator of a 400-bed shelter in Brentwood after an audit showed the agency owed Suffolk County $1.09 million that had to be repaid and claimed another $2.59 million in expenses that were disallowed. The county has sued to recover the money.

The audit also criticized Social Service officials to failing to seek required background information on Levine, who was convicted in 2001 of criminal possession of marijuana with intent to sell. Levine earlier held a teaching certification, but it was revoked in 2008, according to state Education Department records.

Maurizio Savoiardo, Levine’s attorney, said his client “vehemently denies” the county's claims and said its lawsuit is “without merit.” Levine has countersued for $1 million in damages, Savoiardo said.

He said Suffolk is seeking to recoup $230,000 spent on beds, linens, and mattresses and for failing to follow bidding rules, but is still using the material and cannot prove supplies could have been obtained more cheaply.

“There is no doubt Julie possesses the moral character and fitness to be a teacher,” Savoiardo said.

After a mistake 20 years ago, she “paid her debt to society and emerged as an outspoken and tireless advocate” for women and children, Savoiardo said.

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