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Lanny Breuer Reported to be Leaving DOJ, Leaving a Mixed Legacy
On Tuesday, PBS aired a Frontline report, The Untouchables, examining the reasons federal prosecutors had not charged Wall Street executives over the 2008 financial crisis. The program featured Lanny Breuer, who heads up the U.S. Department of Justices criminal division, and on Wednesday, the Washington Post was reporting that he was leaving his job.
. . . the reality is, if a Wall Street executive was involved in a transaction, and on the other side of that transaction was another Wall Street executive, and they both had sophisticated lawyers and they both had sophisticated disclosure documents, as much as the conduct is reprehensible . . . there was a level of greed, a level of excessive risk taking in this situation that I find abominable and I find very upsetting. But that is not what makes a criminal case.
Breuer spoke about this topic in a September 2012 address to the New York City Bar Association, when he said:
In reaching every charging decision, we must take into account the effect of an indictment on innocent employees and shareholders, just as we must take into account the nature of the crimes committed and the pervasiveness of the misconduct. I personally feel that its my duty to consider whether individual employees with no responsibility for, or knowledge of, misconduct committed by others in the same company are going to lose their livelihood if we indict the corporation. In large multi-national companies, the jobs of tens of thousands of employees can be at stake. And, in some cases, the health of an industry or the markets are a real factor. Those are the kinds of considerations in white-collar crime cases that literally keep me up at night, and which must play a role in responsible enforcement.
As of Thursday afternoon, neither Breuer nor any Justice Department officials had commented about the Posts report of his resignation, and it is not clear when he would be expected to leave his position at DOJ.
See also: "The long goodbye of DOJ's Lanny Breuer," The BLT: The Blog of LegalTimes.