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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Illinois

Monday, October 27, 2014

Joel R. Levin Returns To U.S. Attorney’s Office To Succeed Retiring First Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary S. Shapiro

CHICAGO — A veteran federal prosecutor rejoined the U.S. Attorney’s Office today as the second-ranking official and will succeed the office’s longest-serving prosecutor upon his retirement early next month.  Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, announced the appointment of Joel R. Levin, who was a federal prosecutor for 28 years in Chicago, San Francisco, and Milwaukee, as First Assistant U.S. Attorney, succeeding Gary S. Shapiro, who has held the position for nearly 17 years of his 42-year career with the Justice Department.

Mr. Levin, 60, who was a trial partner with Mr. Fardon and others in the prosecution of former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, left government service in 2008 for private law practice.  He returned to the office today as the No. 2 official under Mr. Fardon.

Mr. Shapiro, 68, whose distinguished career over four decades included 16 months as the U.S. Attorney before Mr. Fardon took office a year ago, is retiring effective Nov. 3.

“I am very pleased to welcome Joel, my friend and former trial partner, as a senior member of our team, knowing that we are gaining the benefit of his judgment and counsel in the critically vital role of First Assistant.  This office is extremely fortunate to have Joel step into a leadership role and draw upon his breadth of experience, both in this and other U.S. Attorney’s Offices, as well as private practice,” Mr. Fardon said.

“At the same time, we are keenly aware that Gary’s retirement brings an end to his guiding influence, which has been steadfast through the tenure of five U.S. Attorneys, as well as five additional U.S. Attorneys while Gary was with, and led, the independent Organized Crime Strike Force.  We in law enforcement, and the citizens of the Northern District of Illinois, owe Gary our deepest gratitude for his four decades of public service and for upholding the highest principles of justice for all.  We congratulate him and wish him a wonderful retirement,” Mr. Fardon added.

Mr. Levin said: “It is humbling to replace Gary but I am honored by the opportunity of returning to public service and working with Zach, as well as the entire U.S. Attorney’s Office.  I am excited to contribute to protecting our national security, attacking the violence that has plagued our neighborhoods, rooting out public corruption, prosecuting health care fraud and bringing to justice those who attempt to undermine the integrity of our markets and financial system.”

Mr. Shapiro said: “Chicago is blessed with a remarkable federal prosecutor’s office, staffed with talented and dedicated public servants.  I’ve been able to investigate and try cases with some of the most creative and committed investigators imaginable, and in an atmosphere in which ‘doing the right thing’ was the only object.  I’ve been very lucky to be allowed to work here.”

The First Assistant U.S. Attorney, also known as the FAUSA, plays a major role in supervising all matters, including investigations and prosecutions involving international terrorism, public corruption, corporate fraud, and organized crime, including violent crime and narcotics and gang prosecutions.  The FAUSA also has significant responsibility for managing more than 300 employees, including currently 162 Assistant U.S. Attorneys in Chicago and Rockford, serving 18 counties and nine million residents in northern Illinois. 

Mr. Levin returns to the U.S. Attorney’s Office from Perkins Coie in Chicago, where he was a member of the firm’s White Collar & Investigations practice since 2008.  Mr. Levin was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Milwaukee from 1980 to 1984, and an AUSA in San Francisco from 1984 to 1997, serving as chief of the Criminal Division his last two years there.  In 1997, he joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago and held supervisory positions, including chief of the Financial Fraud and Special Prosecutions Section in 2007-08.  In addition to the public corruption prosecution of Ryan and other defendants in Operation Safe Road, Mr. Levin handled numerous financial fraud cases and was a member of the trial team in the prosecution of Gustavo “Gino” Colon, the leader of the Latin Kings street gang.

Mr. Levin received four Justice Department Director’s Awards for superior performance between 1990 and 2006; the Federal Bar Association’s Frank McGarr Award in 2002; and the Chicago Crime Commission’s Star of Distinction Award in 2006.  He has been an adjunct professor of law at Northwestern University since 2008.

Mr. Levin graduated from Yale University in 1976 and from Harvard Law School in 1979.

Mr. Shapiro served as the United States Attorney from July 1, 2012, to Oct. 23, 2013, between the terms of Mr. Fardon and Patrick J. Fitzgerald.  Former U.S. Attorney Scott R. Lassar appointed Mr. Shapiro First Assistant in January 1998, and Mr. Fitzgerald reappointed him in that position after taking office in 2001.  In 2007, Mr. Shapiro received a Justice Department Director’s Award for executive achievement.

He joined the Justice Department in 1972 as a trial attorney and, in 1974, he joined the Chicago Strike Force, a field office of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Section.  In 1984, he became Attorney in Charge of the Chicago Strike Force, responsible for supervising all federal organized crime investigations and trials in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.  In 1990, when the Strike Force field offices nationwide were merged into the United States Attorney’s offices, Mr. Shapiro became Chief of the Organized Crime Section of the Chicago U.S. Attorney’s Office.  In 1992, he was appointed Chief of the Criminal Division.

Mr. Shapiro brought his considerable experience prosecuting organized crime and the Chicago “Outfit” to bear over the last decade in supervising Operation Family Secrets, which resulted in Frank Calabrese, Sr., a street crew leader, Joey “The Clown” Lombardo, and James Marcello, both Outfit capos, each being sentenced to life in prison for crimes related to more than a dozen mob murders and attempted murders, including some of Chicago’s most notorious Outfit hits, dating back to the 1960s.

Mr. Shapiro also helped oversee the decade-long civil investigation of systemic corruption nationwide in the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), which resulted in an unprecedented out-of-court settlement and a top-to-bottom reformation of LIUNA’s election and internal policing structures designed to rid the union of decades of organized crime influence.  For this achievement, in 2000, Mr. Shapiro and other members of the team received the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award.

In the 1980s, Mr. Shapiro prosecuted Roy Williams, then president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters; Allen Dorfman, once responsible for the management of the multi-billion-dollar Teamsters Central States Pension Fund; Joey Lombardo; and several pension fund trustees for conspiring to bribe then U.S. Sen. Howard Cannon, of Nevada, to kill proposed Senate legislation to deregulate the trucking industry.  Following Williams’ conviction and sentencing, he became the highest-ranking Teamsters official ever to testify against the mobsters who then controlled the Teamsters Union, and his cooperation contributed substantially to the subsequent convictions of the leaders of the organized crime families in Chicago, Kansas City and Cleveland for skimming millions of dollars from Las Vegas casinos.

Mr. Shapiro also prosecuted Harry Aleman, the notorious Chicago mobster and hitman, for operating a violent home invasion crew, and he oversaw the racketeering investigation and trial of Aleman, mob capo Ernest “Rocky” Infelise, and other Chicago Outfit members, as well as the prosecution of then-Cicero Town President Betty Loren Maltese.  Mr. Shapiro is also credited with helping turn Robert Cooley, a corrupt former Chicago lawyer, into a government cooperating witness, who testified in several Operation Gambat trials involving organized crime and judicial corruption in the early 1990s.

In the late 1970s, Mr. Shapiro headed the investigation and trials of Charles Nicosia, former mayor of East Chicago, Ind., and other East Chicago public officials and local contractors for significant bribery schemes involving the payment of millions of dollars to obtain and then skim the public works contract to revamp East Chicago’s water treatment and sewer system.

Mr. Shapiro graduated from Rice University in 1968 and from the University of Texas School of Law in 1971.

Updated July 23, 2015