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Queens insurance broker charged with pocketing premiums

A Center Moriches woman who owned a Queens insurance agency has been charged with illegally pocketing more than $600,000 in insurance premiums, the Queens District Attorney's office said Wednesday.

Julie Levin, 44, a licensed insurance broker, collected payments on behalf of four insurance companies from more than 400 policyholders and then failed to submit the payments she had received, officials said.

Instead, officials said, Levin, president of Oscar Katz Agency and Levin & Associates Brokerage, both located at 29-24 Hoyt Avenue South in Astoria, pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars from clients who believed that they were making auto insurance payments on time.

Between Jan. 1, 2009 and Dec. 31, 2009, officials said Levin received $606,769.82 from more than 406 individuals for payments to Maya Assurance, American Transit Insurance Company, Hereford Insurance and Fiduciary Insurance Company of America.

The companies eventually contacted authorities who began the investigation.

Levin tried to conceal the scheme by issuing 43 bad checks - totaling $121,750 - to two of the companies, Maya Assurance and Hereford Insurance, officials said. The checks were later returned due to insufficient funds, officials said.

Levin was arraigned earlier this week before Queens Criminal Court Judge Pauline A. Mullings. She is charged with four counts of second-degree grand larceny, four counts of second-degree criminal possession of stolen property, one count of first-degree scheme to defraud and forty-three counts of issuing a bad check.

Levin, who faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted, was released on $50,000 bail. She is due back in court on Jan. 7.

Calls to Levin's lawyer, Robert Vella, were not immediately returned Wednesday evening.

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