Although the Justice Department said on Tuesday that it had just charged 530 defendants after a “yearlong” drive against mortgage fraud, a closer look at the numbers shows that some of the cases actually originated much earlier. But the FBI, which spearheaded the drive, insists there was no attempt to inflate the statistics to make the DOJ look good.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the authorities leading the initiative charged 530 defendants in 285 cases in connection with mortgage fraud, which the DOJ said inflicted almost $1 billion in losses on homeowners. Holder said the initiative ran from Oct. 1, 2011 to Sept. 30, 2012.
A Bloomberg News report, however, found that some of the cases cited in the statistics include ones filed as early as 2009. The DOJ did not provide a list of the cases, but of 11 originating in U.S. Attorneys’ offices, six were filed in 2009 and 2010, Bloomberg reported. Two additional cases were filed before October 2011.
Bloomberg cited one case from 2009 in which charges were dismissed against one of the defendants, while four others pleaded guilty earlier in 2011. Another was convicted at trial in March of this year.
“In a case involving falsified loan documents in Washington, the defendant pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge about two weeks before the initiative began. She was sentenced to 40 months in prison in January [of this year],” Bloomberg reported.
FBI Spokesman William Carter told Bloomberg that certain cases were included in the number because some type of “law enforcement action,” including indictments, convictions and sentencings, took place during the initiative’s yearlong period.
“There is no attempt to fudge the numbers or make it look like it was a bigger problem than it was,” Carter told Bloomberg. “Through our intelligence, we saw this as a rising problem and we’re trying to get ahead of it.”
The Justice Department did not respond to requests for comment from Bloomberg.