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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Wisconsin

For Immediate Release

Monday, April 23, 2018
Matthew D. Krueger
, United States Attorney

Husband and Wife Sentenced to Prison for Arson of Apartment Building

Matthew D. Krueger, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced today that two people were sentenced to prison for their involvement in the arson of an 8-unit apartment building in Milwaukee in December 2014. The fire resulted in injuries to multiple people, including tenants and three firefighters with the Milwaukee Fire Department. On April 12, 2018, United States District Court Judge Pamela Pepper sentenced Levita Brewer to 120 months (10 years) in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release. On October 11, 2017, United States District Court Judge J.P. Stadtmueller sentenced Stepfonz Campbell to 92 months (7 years, 8 months) in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release.

The evidence reflected that in early December 2014, Brewer and Campbell, who are married, traveled from Tennessee to Milwaukee, where they had lived just a couple months earlier. Around 10:00 p.m. on December 2, 2014, Brewer poured gasoline in the common hallway of an occupied apartment building on West Eggert Place. Their motive in setting the fire was to retaliate against the landlord, who previously had evicted them.

As the fire progressed, multiple tenants were forced to break through windows and jump to the ground to escape the fire. Three firefighters who entered the building in the midst of the fire found themselves trapped in extreme heat on the second floor. They jumped from a second-story window to the ground and suffered significant injuries. At the sentencing hearings, the federal prosecutor discussed the significant physical and emotional injuries tenants and firefighters endured as a result of the arson.

According to United States Attorney Krueger: “The defendants committed a most heinous act of violence, setting fire to the homes of innocent people. We commend the bravery of the firefighters and tenants who survived this near-fatal arson. The United States Attorney’s Office is committed to combatting violent crime, including arsons, and will continue to seek substantial prison sentences for those who harm members of our community. This successful prosecution resulted from excellent collaboration between federal, state, and local law enforcement, the Milwaukee Fire Department, as well as officers from the Jackson, Tennessee, Police Department.”

“These arsons could have turned tragic very quickly,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Kurt Thielhorn of the St. Paul Field Division. “Three firefighters suffered tremendously from their injuries incurred while responding to the blaze; we are thankful they are still with us. Let this case show that thoughtless acts like these will be brought to justice. We’re proud to work alongside the Milwaukee Police Department, Milwaukee Fire Department, and Wisconsin Department of Justice during this investigation. It is due to their diligence in the pursuit of justice that the truth was uncovered of who was responsible for these reckless acts.”

By virtue of its statutory authority under Title XI of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970, ATF initiates investigations and assists in state and local bomb and arson investigations. Over nearly 40 years, ATF has developed scientifically proven investigative capabilities, expertise and resources and has proved that the cooperative effort between trained State and local officers and ATF results in more effective investigations.

The matter was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation, the Milwaukee Fire Department, the Milwaukee Police Department, and the Jackson, Tennessee, Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Margaret B. Honrath and William J. Lipscomb.

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Field Division: St. Paul Field Division