Disbarred lawyer is denied New York taxi license

New York taxi

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A disbarred lawyer won’t be able to drive a cab in New York City as a result of a ruling by a New York appeals court.

The Appellate Division, Second Department, ruled against disbarred lawyer Joseph Levine, 67, on Feb. 24, the New York Law Journal (sub. req.) reports. The appeals court said New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission’s denial of the license in 2013 was not arbitrary or capricious.

An investigator with the commission had cited Levine’s criminal convictions for stealing client funds and participating in a scheme to bribe insurance adjusters. The investigator said those crimes created a risk the Levine would engage in “unsupervised financial transactions” with customers.

At the time Levine sought the taxi license, he still owed $300,000 in restitution.

New York law says licenses or employment shouldn’t be denied based on a conviction—unless there is a direct relationship between the crimes and the job or license being sought, or there is a risk to the public. A trial judge ruled on behalf of Levine, noting that he was seeking treatment for gambling addiction, had passed a drug test and a taxi driving class, and was a military veteran.

But the appeals court said Levine’s criminal offenses “bore a direct relationship to how he dealt with persons who hired him for services.” The appeals court also said Levine had “minimized his culpability” in his interview with the commission investigator.

Levine told the New York Law Journal he plans to appeal the decision. He currently works as a paralegal and has licenses to work as a notary and a process server. “It’s very hard to get work when you’re a convicted felon,” Levine told the publication. “It’s very hard.”

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