JAIL IS FOR THE LITTLE PEOPLE: The Charlie Engle story

Ultra-marathoner Charlie Engle is in jail. The real financial criminals never go to jail and are, in fact, rewarded with government bailouts and generous bonuses. On March 16th, I wrote here “Jail Is For The Little People.” This is a little person’s story and I found it quite interesting.

From Saturday’s New York Times:

Talking Business
In Prison for Taking a Liar Loan

Published: March 25, 2011
No. Charlie Engle wasn’t a seller of bad mortgages. He was a borrower. And the “mortgage fraud” for which he was prosecuted was something that literally millions of Americans did during the subprime bubble. Supposedly, he lied on two liar loans.
s a young man, Mr. Engle had been a serious drug addict, but after he got clean, he became an ultra-marathoner, one of the best in the world. In the fall of 2006, he and two other ultra-marathoners took on an almost unimaginable challenge: they ran across the Sahara Desert, something that had never been done before. The run took 111 days, and was documented in a film financed by Matt Damon, who served as executive producer and narrator. Mr. Engle received $30,000 for his participation.

The film, “Running the Sahara,” was released in the fall of 2008. Eventually, it caught the attention of Robert W. Nordlander, a special agent for the Internal Revenue Service. As Mr. Nordlander later told the grand jury, “Being the special agent that I am, I was wondering, how does a guy train for this because most people have to work from nine to five and it’s very difficult to train for this part-time.”

This is how the IRS starts a case? I have a feeling that there must be something more to it that we don’t know. We know that the hell of the IRS can be placed upon anyone at any time for any reason–the Paula Jones audit, for example.

Still convinced that Mr. Engle must be hiding income, Mr. Nordlander did undercover surveillance and took “Dumpster dives” into Mr. Engle’s garbage. He mainly discovered that Mr. Engle lived modestly.

In March 2009, still unsatisfied, Mr. Nordlander persuaded his superiors to send an attractive female undercover agent, Ellen Burrows, to meet Mr. Engle and see if she could get him to say something incriminating. In the course of several flirtatious encounters, she asked him about his investments.

You do this stuff for someone in organized crime named Gotti, not for someone who took out a “liar loan.”

Charlie Engle’s blog is called “Running in Place.”

He’s serving 21 months in prison, plus he’s got to repay $262,500 restitution and he’s got 100 hours of community service.

I don’t know if Charlie Engle is guilty of a felony or simply made bad investments. The New York Times story is sympathetic to his actions.

I do know, as I’ve pointed out previously, a hack NYC politician named Andrew Stein (Democrat, of course) did bad things and he won’t go to jail for a single minute.

I do know that no one at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac seems to be going to jail. That involved billions of federal dollars, perhaps trillions.

I do know that no one has gone to jail in the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. Not CEO Richard Fuld, not the accounting firm that didn’t reveal financial irregularities, not the rating agency that gave Lehman the highest rating–no one goes to jail.

The Times story ends:

As part of his sentence, Mr. Engle was ordered to pay $262,500 in restitution to the owner of his mortgages. And what institution might that be? You guessed it: Countrywide, now owned by Bank of America.

Angelo Mozilo ought to get a good chuckle out of that one.

Oh yes, Angelo Mozilo and the “friends of Angelo” (like Chris Dodd) never go to jail.

A small fry gets the IRS full takedown and goes to jail for 21 months. Read the whole thing.