If you were to play an episode of “Law & Order” against a day in the life of Stacey Levine, chances are Jack McCoy and Michael Cutter would end up looking rather dull in comparison. Levine has been a federal prosecutor for 15 years and during that time she has taken down drug lords, dismantled gangs, tried kidnappers and child pornographers, and uncovered Medicaid fraud and Ponzi schemes.
In July, Levine, who is currently an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of New Jersey, made headlines for her work on the case of Leonid Zatlsberg, a New Jersey UBS client who pled guilty to failing to report $2 million concealed in a Swiss Bank account. And in August, Levine was in the news again for her work in US v. Bent, et al., a multi-defendant investment fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion case involving over 80 victims who were defrauded out of millions of dollars.
Levine graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 1994 and began her career in the Southern District of Florida as a law clerk to Judge Edward B. Davis, who recently passed away. “He became a treasured mentor,” said Levine. “He taught me so much about the law — and about life generally. He was known for the fairness he showed attorneys, litigants, and defendants who appeared before him.”
While offers at big law firms loomed, her experience with Judge Davis changed her career outlook. “I spent a year watching federal prosecutors go head-to-head with some of the most prominent defense attorneys in the country,” she said. “After that I knew I wanted to work in the public sector.”
Levine accepted an offer from the U.S. Attorney in Miami. She spent her first year in the appellate office, where she wrote nearly a dozen briefs and argued three before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. “Standing before the brightest minds in the nation was an incredible experience, and it’s one that I was better prepared for thanks to my experience on Moot Court,” she said. “We were accustomed to brief writing and oral argument. It gave me a great foundation.”
A year later, when Levine moved to trials, she sought out AUSA Christopher J. Clark as a mentor. The decision to shadow Clark was a wise one; it landed her on one of the most high profile cases in Miami crime history — the prosecution of Kenneth “Boobie” Williams, who was featured on America’s Most Wanted. The 11-defendant “Boobie Boys” gang case involved 35 homicides, a corrupt police officer, wiretap evidence, and the importation of three tons of cocaine. When the arrests were made, the homicide rate in Miami dropped by 50 percent. For her work on the case, Levine received the Director’s Award, one of the most prestigious awards given by the U.S. Department of Justice.
While working the Boobie Boys case, Levine worked on a high-profile kidnapping case involving a mother and her two young children who were held captive for five days until they were located and rescued by the FBI in a scene that could have come straight from a Jerry Bruckheimer film.
Through these trials she learned how to manage the emotional toll of working with victims of violent crime. “I really had to separate my emotions from the work. My biggest challenge in this job is my greatest reward — working with victims to get them justice and by extension some kind of closure in cases involving horrible crimes,” Levine said.
In addition to prosecuting violent crime in Miami, Levine also tried several computer crime cases, which landed her a position with the Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. While there, Levine worked on legislative, investigative, and prosecutorial aspects of high-tech crime.
In 2002, Levine joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in her home state of New Jersey. As part of the Securities and Heath Care Fraud Unit, Levine directed complex high-profile investigations, including drafting the first deferred prosecution agreement in a heath care fraud case involving the largest public heath institution in the nation. For her work on that case, she received the Inspector General’s Integrity Award, one of the most esteemed awards given by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Levine’s life continues to read like an episode of “Law & Order,” as she fights for justice and for victims without a voice. It’s all she has ever wanted to do. “For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a lawyer,” she said. “I love having the opportunity to make a difference.”