I, for one, am ecstatic.
In the wake of the devastating financial and housing crisis, many Americans have been outraged that more of the folks responsible haven't gone to jail. That may well be changing. In Friday's New York Times, Joe Nocera details the case of Charlie Engle, a mortgage felon currently cooling his heels behind bars.
Sure, some folks may misguidedly think that the government has been too soft on big banks at the center of the financial mess, including Bank of America
Take Angelo Mozilo, for instance. The former head of Countrywide Financial was compensated a mere $471 million for the five years ending in mid-2008, and was forced to give up a colossal $67.5 million for securities fraud. So you say he cost his investors almost everything, ran a company that created some of the most toxic loans, and profited from all of it? I say "pshaw" -- Mozilo is small beans compared to Engle.
Engle, an inspirational story of a drug-addict-turned-world-class-distance-runner, did the unthinkable -- he lied about his income on multiple "liar loans." Forget Mozilo and anyone who made serious fortunes during the housing boom; clearly, we ought to imprison vicious criminals like Engle instead.
Besides, this whole situation, at which The Times seems oddly aghast, is a good reminder about what the government and law enforcement are really for: To protect the delicate interests of large corporations from the evil meddling of the common man.
And kudos to the besuited government sleuths for getting creative to take down this evildoer. As Nocera reports:
In March 2009, still unsatisfied, Mr. Nordlander persuaded his superiors to send an attractive female undercover agent, Ellen Burrows, to meet Mr. Engle and see if she could get him to say something incriminating. In the course of several flirtatious encounters, she asked him about his investments.
This wired undercover agent eventually got Engle to fess up to having inflated his income on a couple of loans. Great work, folks!
Hopefully you've picked up on the sarcasm. Did Charlie Engle do wrong? Absolutely. But in the wake of a financial massacre, it'd be nice to see law enforcement focused on tracking down those with the figurative machine guns and bombs, not some guy who punched someone else in the nose.
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