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It could be any young Boston lawyer’s office: tight, crowded with briefs, adorned with drawings by his kids — but for one thing: Prominently displayed on the wall of Joshua Levy’s cubbyhole in Boston’s Moakley Federal Courthouse is a small framed black-and-white photograph of a baseball player swinging a bat. The inscription: “To Josh / your pal Ted Williams.” “That was the first case I tried in the office,” recalls Levy, a Boston native and lifelong Red Sox fan. The case involved the Hall of Famer’s son, John Henry Williams, who in college had been a friend of one Rodney Nichols. To his later regret, Williams had stored two of his father’s championship rings along with other belongings in the home of Nichols’ parents. Nichols, unfortunately, turned out to be a compulsive gambler, says Levy: “Rodney gave the rings to a bookie to whom he was in the hopper for $33,000; the bookie gave them to a sports memorabilia dealer; the dealer called John Henry and tried to resell them for more than $90,000. And John Henry called the FBI.” The case came to trial in June 1998 — 10 months after Levy had left big-firm private practice to accept a job as an Assistant U.S. Attorney “and taken a 50 percent pay cut for the privilege.” Levy won a guilty verdict — and that later brought the autographed photo. U.S. v. Nichols was a “relatively small-potatoes case,” says Levy, but it was fairly high-profile; it presaged a career prosecuting economic crime cases. “I’d always been interested in public service,” explains Levy, who is today also an elected member of the town meeting in suburban Needham, Mass. After graduating from Brown University in 1987 and working in the presidential campaign of Michael Dukakis, Levy attended Georgetown University Law School. Next came a one-year clerkship for Judge Harold Green in the Washington, D.C., district court. Levy then joined Boston’s Ropes & Gray. And the high point of his time in private practice? “My work as an assistant district attorney in Middlesex County.” It seems Levy had taken full advantage of the firm’s policy of allowing young associates to serve up to six months in the district attorney’s office. Boston-based Bingham McCutchen partner Donald Stern, the former U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts who hired Levy, lauds his protege’s breadth and balance. Stern still remembers his initial interview with the then-30-year-old lawyer: “He looked like a little kid.” Stern laughs: “He still looks like a kid. But he just blew me away with his intellectual maturity.” Courtroom opponent Paul Kelly — a former Assistant U.S. Attorney under Stern and now a name partner at the white-collar defense boutique Kelly, Libby & Hoopes — praises Levy for his “aggressiveness, excellent trial demeanor, and intelligence.” While Levy admits that he “occasionally fantasizes” about making more money, he isn’t ready to return to private practice. Not, at least, while he’s involved in trying “terrorism-related financing cases,” which are still very much in his pipeline. The most prominent came shortly after 9/11 and involved a hawala, one of the informal lending institutions cited as sources of al-Qaida funding, which in this case was run by Dorchester, Mass.-based Mohamed Hussein. Proving that Hussein had funneled money to terrorists, Levy won the first conviction under the USA Patriot Act. The case, Levy recalls, was marked by “intense media attention.” It’s something, his old boss Don Stern says, that “Josh better get used to. This is a guy who’s going to be a high-profile player.”

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