Jan. 21, 2013 at 11:26amTuesday night's Frontline

The New Untouchables ...

The Untouchables will premiere Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 9p.m. on KSPS in Spokane. And no, it's not the story of Eliot Ness and the film directed by Brian de Palma from the 1980's. 

The Untouchables is an investigation by Frontline detailing why not one Wall Street senior executive has faced criminal prosecution for fraud, related to the sale of toxic mortgages in the four years since the U.S. financial crisis in 2008. 


Frontline reports on allegations that Wall Street Bankers virtually ignored pervasive fraud when buying pools of mortgage loans. Interviewed for the piece, Tom Leonard was a supervisor who examined the loans for major investment banks. Leonard says bankers instructed him to "disregard clear evidence of fraud" saying "Fraud was the F-word, or the F-bomb. You didn't use that word … by the industry's terms it was something else."

Interviewed for the program, Lanny Breuer, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) assistant attorney general, says “I think there was a level of greed, a level of excessive risk taking in this situation that I find abominable and very upsetting,” says Breuer. “But that is not what makes a criminal case.”

Critics, including Eliot Spitzer, former New York attorney general and two high-level sources with Breuer's own division, disagree with those statements and question why, despite strong evidence of fraud, the government decided not to pursue criminal charges. 

Sen. Ted Kaufman, who was appointed to fill Joe Biden's Senate seat when he was sworn in as vice president in 2009, goes on record saying he was determined to see bankers in handcuffs. He left office in 2010 and remains convinced the DOJ failed to make criminal prosecutions of Wall Street Bankers a priority.

In 2012, current New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman finally filed a major lawsuit against JP Morgan Chase and Bearn Stearns. 

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