Meet the New Enforcer – U.S. Attorney Gretchen Shappert

District Court Chief Judge Wilma Lewis administered the oath of office to the U.S. Attorney for the Virgin Islands Gretchen Shappert. Shappert took on the job as the primary federal law enforcement presence in the territory because “the attorney general (Jeff Sessions) asked me to accept the assignment.”

Her top priority is public safety that includes violent crime, gang activity and illegal drug trafficking, as well as money laundering and white-collar crime.

Shappert is mentioned in a 2007 story about the balancing act for U.S. attorneys who are political appointees and yet are expected to be blind to political considerations as they do their jobs. The story suggests that while she was a prosecutor in North Carolina, Shappert, a Republican, ran afoul of some GOP leaders. The story points out that she had been involved in the successful prosecution of a prominent state party leader on tax fraud conspiracy charges.

Shappert worked in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina from 1990 to 2009, first as an assistant and the last five years as head of the office. She also worked with the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. She took on outlaw motorcycle gangs and drug dealers. Most recently, she was the assistant director for the Indian, Violent and Cyber Crime Staff in the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, a division of the U.S. Department of Justice. She’s also noted for tackling domestic violence cases.

As for drugs, Shappert said law enforcement efforts should focus on the most serious threats, the people with a history of criminal activity, and on interdiction of drug shipments. She is also well aware of the high potential for money-laundering and described it as “corrosive.” Not only does it allow criminals to hide their illegal gains, it allows businesses to compete unfairly with legitimate concerns.

“This is a mission-driven office,” she said. Staff are dedicated to securing and improving the Virgin Islands community where they and their families live.

Shappert said she grew up in a rural area of northern Illinois. She earned her bachelor of art degree from Duke University in 1977 and her juris doctorate from Washington Lee University School of Law in 1980.