The numbers alone are staggering: $13 billion paid out by JPMorgan Chase to atone for its role in the economic meltdown of 2008, and more than $5 billion to be doled out by Goldman Sachs.
Hundreds of millions of dollars from those banking giants will flow back to the pension funds of California’s state workers and teachers, with millions more directed to help distressed homeowners in Sacramento and 24 other Central Valley counties ravaged by the housing collapse.
Both agreements stem, in large part, from the work of two assistant U.S. attorneys who have spent long hours and weekends poring over tens of millions of financial documents in their offices on the 10th floor of Sacramento’s federal courthouse.
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The Goldman Sachs settlement includes a $2.385 billion civil penalty, the largest ever levied by federal prosecutors in the Sacramento-based Eastern District of California. Wagner lavished praise on investigators who made it happen.
“I am very pleased that this office, which serves the district that was ravaged by the financial crisis, played a major role in delivering a measure of justice in this matter,” Wagner said. “This was not a case involving a lot of attorneys from Washington that were working on it.
“It really pretty much exclusively was a product of the hard work done by this team and this office.”
At the news conference, Wagner defended the fact that no criminal prosecutions were announced, addressing the issue before being asked about it. He noted that the deal announced Monday allows prosecutors and agents to investigate Goldman Sachs and requires the company to cooperate in any such probe.
“There’s a lot of blame to go around,” Wagner said. “That does not necessarily equate to a scheme by high-level employees of the company. If there is a criminal case to be made, we will make it.”
Wagner said his office is not conducting a criminal probe of Goldman Sachs or any of its employees.