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Federal investigator: more mortgage fraud cases in the pipeline

Have you heard of TARP?

Even if you're not formally acquainted with that acronym, the thrust of what the Troubled Asset Relief Program does -- that is, what TARP was set up to accomplish when it was established as a federal program in 2008 -- might be something you're pretty clear about.

The program was ushered in during the so-called Great Recession, during a period of epochal subprime mortgage deals and resulting bank collapses. TARP's role was -- and continues to be, to a lesser extent -- to provide cash infusions to troubled banks in desperate need of help.

Reportedly, $400 billion-plus has been doled out.

Now, in the wake of those mass transfusions, TARP's primary focus has been supplemented by an additional scrutiny of its investigators on bank officials who might have played a role in mortgage fraud pursuant to federal money they received.

The stated emphasis is on big fish, with Christy Goldsmith Romero, TARP's inspector general, acknowledging public criticisms that top-echelon banking executives at so-called "too big to fail" institutions have routinely avoided criminal prosecution following wrongdoing.

Although Goldsmith Romero notes a dearth of prosecutorial activity at that level, she states that scores of bankers across the country have been convicted of financial crimes, with more currently awaiting trial.

Goldsmith Romero's comments underscore a dichotomy that has been oft-noted regarding prosecutions in white-collar financial cases, to wit: Although high-end officials often seem to steer clear of justice system entanglement, smaller players -- for example, lower-level accountants, loan officers, mortgage brokers and real estate agents -- often face relentless government probes intent on obtaining harsh criminal sentences.

Although that is unfair, of course, it also spells reality for many mid-level financial industry participants, who can easily find themselves targeted in fraud probes while higher-ranking company actors largely avoid investigative scrutiny.

The government acts with power and resolve when it does decide to pursue a white collar crime matter. Any person who is in the crosshairs of a state and/or federal criminal probe might reasonably want to contact a proven criminal defense attorney without delay for legal assistance.

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