The first page of the list also showed a Nov. 8 federal conviction in New Jersey of a man whom I won’t name here. There was no record for him on Pacer, which is the government’s online database of federal court proceedings. But I did find an Oct. 13 article in the Daily Record of Parsippany, New Jersey, about a fraud at an insurance agency where a person with the same name had worked. The article said he had not been charged criminally. Finelli declined to comment on why he was included in the task force’s list of defendants.

Two others were included because they were sentenced in the last few months, even though they were found or pled guilty last year. And those are just in the first twenty names out of 343. In other words, the Obama administration is lying about its crackdown.

Weil concludes thusly:

By all outward appearances, it seems the Justice Department either doesn’t want to prosecute systemically important frauds, or doesn’t know how. Or maybe it’s both.

It wasn’t always this way. More than a thousand felony convictions followed the savings-and-loan scandal of the 1980s and early 1990s. Some of the biggest kingpins, such as Charles Keating of Lincoln Savings & Loan, went to jail. With this latest financial crisis, there’s been no such accountability.

Operation Broken Trust may be a fitting name. Unfortunately it’s for all the wrong reasons. The public already knows not to trust the government. Flimflam P.R. stunts such as this one at least offer us a useful reminder of why.


I suppose if there’s one good thing that comes out of this headslapper, it’s that maybe the Obama administration’s laughable attempt to show it’s tough on financial fraud will cause enough of a backlash in the press that it forces them to actually do something about the people who took down the financial system in order to make tens or hundreds of millions of dollars.

Wyatt’s and Weil’s work is a great start. And there’s room for a more comprehensive analysis of the Justice Department’s claims. Keep the drums a-pounding.

Further Reading:

Andrew Ross Sorkin: Fraud Triggered the Financial Crisis. A more important statement than you might think from the NYT’s Wall Street guy.

The NYT Shows Why Cuomo’s After Rattner. Emails show ex-private-equity investor and car czar misled investigators early in the probe, but where are the feds?

Audit Notes: Where Are the Coppers?, Obama and FDR, WSJ.

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