Professional Bio

Steve Bursey

Lead Investigator

Practice Areas:
Contact Information:
Phone: 212-946-9477


Bar Admissions:
Steve came to Milberg LLP in 1997, after serving for 27 years as a Special Agent with the FBI. He was involved in countless sting operations as a Special Agent, including high-profile ones. Steve was the contact agent for an undercover agent in the “Donnie Brasco” mob infiltration operation, which was the feature story in a movie starring Al Pacino and Johnny Depp. This six-year undercover operation into the Bonanno crime family yielded dozens of convictions and is considered one of the most successful Mafia infiltrations in history.

Steve did a considerable amount of undercover work himself, including in the ABSCAM political corruption case. ABSCAM was a sophisticated sting operation in the late 1970s involving undercover agents posing as representatives of Arab sheiks seeking to buy political favors. The sting resulted in the conviction for corruption of a half-dozen members of Congress, including a U.S. Senator, plus scores of state and city officials. The ABSCAM sting was the first major operation by the FBI to expose corrupt public officials.

Steve was also the lead undercover operative in the Red Daisy case. Red Daisy involved the infiltration of the motor fuel industry by organized crime. In this case, Steve established for the first time that the Italian and Russian mobs acted together in a criminal enterprise. Steve created and operated a large virtual business that competed against the mob by offering lower prices to gasoline stations. Steve reported to work one day only to find the building he ran the business from had been burned to the ground. A new business was up and running the next day. Eventually, a “sit-down” between the Russian mob and the Italian mob was set up and recorded, resulting in successful prosecutions.

While in the Sacramento Division, Steve obtained an arrest warrant for a con man who had bilked the elderly and fled deep underground. The fugitive began taunting the FBI with letters, expressing disappointment that his tax dollars did not buy more effective law enforcement. Steve worked with John Walsh at America’s Most Wanted, a prime time television show featuring fugitives, to eventually capture the suspect.

In another operation, Steve infiltrated a methamphetamine ring run by a biker gang. As often happens, the case took an unexpected turn. While working the case, conceived initially as a drug operation, a woman associated with one of the gang members hired Steve to kill her husband. A payoff was captured on video, forcing a guilty plea. After the sentencing, the husband approached Steve and chided him for putting his wife in jail. This story illustrates the necessity of balancing focused doggedness with an open mind to follow wherever the evidence leads.

Steve considers his work at the Firm to be a natural extension of his FBI service, helping to correct injustices.

Steve took a job with Milberg LLP immediately following his retirement from the FBI in 1997 and was tasked with setting up an in-house investigative unit. The methodology pioneered by Milberg in developing witnesses and conducting investigations in securities and investor protection actions was so successful that other plaintiffs’ firms have tried to copy it.

Over the past 12 years, Steve has directed many major class action investigations for the Firm, including cases against Tyco, Enron, WorldCom, Xerox, Lucent, and cases challenging industry-wide wrongdoing such as in the IPO, mutual fund, consumer lending, and auction rate securities contexts. In the Enron case, Milberg LLP’s investigators interviewed thousands of witnesses, which helped decipher the mystery of the special purpose entities set up by Enron and the banks to perpetrate a massive accounting scam. The Firm has uncovered important evidence relating to its representation of victims of the Bernard Madoff scandal. The investigation has been so effective that the firm has shared numerous findings with the FBI.

Steve’s work at the Firm often involves talking to former employees of companies suspected of wrongdoing. A case against a major electronics distributor was made by talking to an employee on the loading dock who complained about all the work he had to do at year-end, like processing bogus orders for customers, moving products onto trucks for a few days, and then putting the goods back in the warehouse, showing them as returned merchandise. In a case involving insider selling by a cigarette advertising firm, a secretary related how she was told by the CFO at a firm retreat to dump her stock weeks before the company announced that it was in trouble, thus evidencing the CFO’s knowledge of problems the public was told about only after insiders had sold their own stock.

Steve’s experience has shown time and again that everyday observations by ordinary people can correct injustices.