It's difficult to blame the Justice Department for deciding this week not to file criminal charges against Goldman Sachs, the huge investment bank that helped cause the mortgage crisis that tanked the U.S. economy.
It was an unfair fight from the beginning. Goldman Sachs is lawyered up to the hilt, and politicians in Congress who do Wall Street's bidding won't give federal regulators the money to fight them. Thus the government doesn't have enough leverage to force bad actors to pay for having shorted the U.S. economy.
But ticked-off homeowners in Missouri can find some solace in the fact that Attorney General Chris Koster is making one company pay for its role in the mortgage crisis.
In February, Mr. Koster filed criminal charges against DocX, a unit of Jacksonville, Fla.-based Lender Processing Services, accusing the company and its employees of forgery. As banks were selling overpriced mortgages that left too many homeowners under water (while simultaneously betting that those homeowners would default on their loans), DocX was helping. It was facilitating the fast and furious mortgage loan paperwork that should have been checked, double checked and signed by actual bank officials.
Instead, a DocX employee just forged names on deeds thousands of times that ended up in courthouses all over Missouri and the rest of the country.
Earlier this month, Mr. Koster reached a settlement with Lender Processing Services. It will pay the state of Missouri $2 million and cooperate with Mr. Koster's ongoing investigation of DocX founder and former president Lorraine Brown.
Most of that money will end up in Missouri's general fund, which means it will be available for schools, drought relief or whatever lawmakers decide to spend it on.
It's not a lot of money. It doesn't make up for the fact that Goldman Sachs traders and executives don't have to worry about prison time.
But it's a start. It's a measure of justice against profiteers who made money on the suffering of others.
Copyright St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Reprinted with permission. Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.