Friday, June 28, 2013

Steal $1B? Pay a fine. Criticize banks? 13 years.

A California man who chalked "Stop Big Banks" on a sidewalk faces a possible prison sentence of 13 years, while a banker whose firm "disappeared" $1.2 billion dollars faces no jail time whatsoever.

The California man, Jonathan Olson, is a former aide to the U.S. senator from Washington. Blogger Jonathan Turley tells us he can't even bring up the First Amendment during his trial.
Olson used water-soluble statements like “Stop big banks,” and “Stop Bank” outside Bank of America branches last year to protest the company’s practices. He eventually gave up his protest but prosecutors later brought 13 charges against him. Now a judge has reportedly banned his attorney from “mentioning the First Amendment, free speech, free expression, public forum, expressive conduct, or political speech during the trial.” It appears someone associated with Bank of American could finally go to jail, but it will not by the bank officials in the financial scandal. It is the guy writing slogans in chalk in the sidewalk.
Jon Corzine, the former head of MF Global, faces a fine because his company robbed clients of $1.2 billion.

The Wall Street Journal reports:
Federal regulators on Thursday filed civil charges against former MF Global Holdings Ltd. Chief Executive Jon S. Corzine and a top lieutenant for overseeing the misuse of almost $1 billion in customer funds, saying Mr. Corzine "bears responsibility" for the New York commodities brokerage's 2011 demise... 
The agency also charged a former executive at the firm, Edith O'Brien, with misusing customer funds, saying she aided and abetted the violations. The agency is seeking monetary penalties from Mr. Corzine and Ms. O'Brien and to ban the two from ever again trading commodities on Wall Street. 
The CFTC's 47-page complaint depicts Mr. Corzine as instrumental in making decisions that put customer accounts at risk by allegedly moving money in violation of strict rules prohibiting such transfers.
Here's how relentlessly Bank of America went after Jonathan Olson, according to Turley:
Darell Freeman, vice president of Bank of America’s Global Corporate Security ...  reportedly demanded action from local prosecutors. Olson stopped when contacted by the San Diego Gang Unit in 2012. 
Yet, the bank insisted the chalk caused $6,000 to clean up, a rather suspicious claim. These were slogans written on the sidewalk. Prosecutors hit him with 13 counts of misdemeanor vandalism charges and $13,000 in restitution to the City and to Bank of America. 
Freeman reportedly continued to hound police to bring charges and reports state that on April 15, Deputy City Attorney Paige Hazard contacted Freeman with the good news. “I wanted to let you know that we will be filing 13 counts of vandalism as a result of the incidents you reported.”
Economic Populist writes:
If the CFTC wins their civil lawsuit against Corzine, beyond being banned from trading, they could impose stiff personal penalties.  Generally speaking it looks like Corzine will be personally sued into political and economic oblivion as he has been bombarded with private lawsuits already in addition to the government now filing civil litigation against him.  Yet of course no one is actually going to jail for illegally using and losing over $1 billion of customer's funds.   
Contrast that with the 20 year prison sentence commonly imposed for sticking up the local 7/11.
Or with a 13-year prison sentence for writing in chalk on a sidewalk.