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Wednesday, 28 August 2013 08:09

Shoplifting Can Get You a Felony and Jail in Michigan, But Top Mortgage Fraud Swindler Went Free

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

shoplift8 27A new Michigan law makes it a felony to shoplift if you resell any items, subject to possible jail time in excess of a year.

But as BuzzFlash at Truthout has repeatedly noted, the US Department of Justice and other Obama administration regulatory agencies have given a slap on the wrist to likely broad illegal activity on the part of Wall Street -- especially in the predatory mortgage lending market. On August 23 we reiterated this condemnation of a double standard of justice in a column, "The DOJ Has Corrupted the Rule of Law by Not Prosecuting Wall Street Financial Looters."

The Grand Rapids Press, in an August 25 article, details one person facing felony shoplifting charges:

Lisa Dawn Ehorn, a 26-year-old mother, was arrested May 17 after a store loss prevention officer spotted her and some juveniles, presumably her children, stealing items valued between $200 and $1,000 at the JC Penney at RiverTown, according to court records.

Ehorn allegedly told the store security personnel that she planned to keep some of the goods for herself and her kids. That alone would have been enough to see her charged with second-degree retail fraud, a crime punishable by a maximum of one year in jail.

But Ehorn also allegedly admitted she planned to sell some of the items. That opened her up to the charge of organized retail crime and the potential five-year prison sentence attached to it.

Ehorn’s and the Kent County Prosecutor’s office could not come to a plea agreement so her trial is slated for Oct. 21 before Kent County Circuit Court Judge George Buth.

BuzzFlash does not condone stealing, but consider the criminal code, police and prosecutorial enforcement that has been brought to bear upon Ehorn.

Compare that to Angelo Mozilo, co-founder and former CEO and chairman of the board of the infamous Countrywide Financial (which was subsequently purchased by the Bank of America after Countrywide was exposed for massive fraudulent activity)

Salon reveals that according to a whistleblower -- Michael Winston -- on Countryside and Mozilo who is now being legally stalked by the Bank of America,

“FUND-EM.” That’s what the license plate read when Winston pulled into Countrywide headquarters at the end of 2005. It was the car of CEO Angelo Mozilo. “What does that mean?” Winston asked a colleague.

“That’s Mozilo’s growth strategy for 2006,” his colleague replied. “We fund all loans.”

“What if the borrower has no job?” Winston asked.

“Fund ‘em.”

“What if they have no assets?”

“Fund ‘em.”

“No income?”

“If they can fog a mirror, we’ll give them a loan.”

Winston relayed his fears about this doomed strategy to Drew Gissinger, head of Countrywide Home Loans, offering proposals on how to prioritize customer satisfaction and strong fundamentals over making dicey loans. “I was trying to save Countrywide from itself,” Winston said.

In actuality, Mozilo's fraudulent practices were much more extensive and varied. 

Eventually, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reached a settlement in 2010 with Mozilo that fined him $67.5 million (of which $20 million was paid by indemnification insurance) and banned him from serving on the board of any company.  Per the practice of the SEC, Mozilo was allowed to claim that he committed no wrong doing, even though the fine was for fraud and insider trading in the subprime mortgage market.

So Mozilo got off with a fine, was never prosecuted and allowed to claim innocence. The fine may sound large, but Mozilo is estimated to have earned around a half a billion dollars while he was running the Countrywide scam that was the epitome of how Wall Street looted American mortgage holders. Furthermore, Mozilo ensured that he was a "protected man" by giving preferential loans to a large number of key regulatory congressional and governmental agency figures.  Then Senate Banking Committe Chair Chris Dodd, for example, was given a financially favorable mortgage by Mozilo.

Here then in a nutshell is the corrosive corruption of American justice served up on a platter: steal a few items from the local retail box store and go to jail; bill the nation's citizens of billions of dollars and play an instrumental role in crashing the economy and forcing people from their homes and you get to keep a few hundred million dollars, declare that you are innocent, and still have the VIPs in DC that you have essentially paid off watching your back for you.

This is how disrespect for a Department of Justice grows into a raging resentment for the best injustice that money can buy.

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(Photo: US Army Korea, Historical Archive)