Over many decades corrupt federal and local prosecutors, ruthless and merciless men and women, have withheld and fixed evidence and bribed and coerced witnesses into committing false testimony with near perfect impunity. Indeed, the “good old boy network” of police, prosecutors, Judges and politicians has routinely protected their own, after having caused thousands of innocent folks to be put to death or suffer long prison sentences and or incur heavy fines just so that ambitious prosecutors might add another notch of conviction to their prosecutorial belts.
And of course it is usually vulnerable minority groups within the American society that most suffer these judicial outrages. Last night on PBS’s Frontline was featured a travesty of justice inflicted upon the Chinese community of China Town, New York City. It involved a relatively small family owed bank that had consciously served the needs of the local community for over thirty years.
The story of the owners of the Chinese bank’s ordeal was framed by the reporters of Frontline as a modern day version of the injustice inflicted on George Bailey’s fictional little savings and loan bank in the Christmas classic, It’s A Wonderful Life. Only in this real life version of unfairness it cost the folks under attack ten million dollars in legal fees as well as lots of personal humiliation to save themselves from smug prosecutorial sharks.
“The documentary ‘Abacus: Small Enough to Jail’ tells the story of Abacus Federal Savings Bank, a small family-run bank in New York City’s Chinatown. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, Abacus became the only American bank to face criminal charges for mortgage fraud.”
The documentary is centered on the bank’s founder Thomas Sung and his two daughters, Vera and Jill. The injustice perpetrated against abacus and the family members who ran the bank began after the Sungs discovered that a few of their loan officers had illegally altered mortgage applications, folks that the family immediately fired and reported to bank regulators.
This got the attention of some federal persecutors eager to cash in on the American outrage over banks that had ripped off the publican, causing a devastating impact upon average citizens, with fat cat banker going scot-free. In the Sung family bank the prosecutors thought they had found the perfect minority patsy to work over. What they hadn’t counted on was that the 80-year-old founder and his daughters were highly experienced lawyers as well as bankers. They refused to rollover when prosecutors demanded that they plead guilty.
The bottom line in the case was that while the mega banks had cost government agencies, and thus the general public, billions of dollars, the three thousand loans that Abacus bank sold to Fanny May actually made millions for the government. In fact of the three thousand morages sold to Fanny May only eight defaulted. This would have been an excellent ratio in good times let alone during a period of financial crisis.
Moreover the prosecution’s star witness against the Sung family was none other than the one super bad apple that they had fired and reported to authorities. Eventually the whole case became such a farce that all two hundred plus charges against the Sungs were dismissed.
It’s going to be a heavy load but some way somehow politicians have got to get some backbone and write legislation that severely punishes prosecutors for over zealous grandstanding and outright crimes.