The problems for Thain will now become swiftly apparent. Ambitious attorneys general will be salivating over getting him in the hoosegow. And how might they do that? You think they might wonder if there was some misrepresentation on the part of Thain and Merrill in their negotiations with Ken Lewis and Bank of America? Just a little bit? I mean, the company lost $21.5 billion in the fourth quarter alone and dragged B of A in just three months from healthy to “help me!”

Already, New York’s Andrew Cuomo is investigating Thain’s acceleration of bonus payments to get them in before B of A took over, the WSJ reports. Expect that probe to widen very soon.

Thain’s company’s problems (which admittedly, he didn’t cause—he’d only been there a year or so) have cost the taxpayers billions of dollars and nearly wiped out Bank of America. He’s made himself a target now.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.