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DOJ loses another top cop on mortgage fraud

U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado John Walsh stepping down

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The Department of Justice is about to lose another one of its top cops in its fight against mortgage fraud.

The DOJ announced Friday that John Walsh, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado and the co-chair of the DOJ’s Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group, is stepping down, effective Aug. 10, 2016.

According to the DOJ, Walsh served as U.S. Attorney for more than six years, making him the longest serving Colorado U.S. Attorney since the 1980’s.

He was appointed to his position by President Barack Obama and confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate, beginning his term with the DOJ on Aug. 10, 2010.

According to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Walsh played a key leadership role in securing a $7 billion settlement with Citigroup over residential mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations.

“U.S. Attorney John Walsh has served the people of the District of Colorado and the entire nation with extraordinary distinction,” Lynch said. 

“For the past six years, John has protected our civil liberties, defended our national security, and aggressively and successfully prosecuted organized crime, drug cartels and gang violence,” Lynch continued.

“He served as a co-chair of the department’s Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group, where he led efforts to root out fraud and abuse and hold institutions accountable for the kinds of misleading lending practices that helped cause the 2008 financial crisis,” Lynch continued.

“And he has been an outstanding leader of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee – lending valuable insight and advice to the Justice Department as a whole,” Lynch concluded. “The people of Colorado, and the country, are safer thanks to John’s keen judgment, deep empathy, and unwavering fidelity to justice. I want to thank John for his exemplary service, and I look forward to all that he will accomplish in the years to come.” 

Walsh’s departure comes just a few months after Benjamin Wagner, who served as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California and spent five years as a co-chair of the Mortgage Fraud Working Group of the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, announced he would be stepping down.

Wagner’s departure came just one month after Stuart Delery, the third in command at the DOJ and leader of the DOJ’s investigations into the conduct of banks during the financial crisis, announced he was stepping down.

In his time with the DOJ, Walsh also had a key role in the investigation, negotiation and resolution of claims that the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers engaged in “widespread abuses” when servicing mortgages, including using thousands of “robo-signed” affidavits in foreclosure proceedings.

That investigation culminated in a 2012 landmark $25 billion agreement, the DOJ said.

Walsh also took part in the $123.5 million settlement with MetLife Home Loans over allegations that it knowingly made mortgages insured by the government that failed to meet federal underwriting standards.

According to the DOJ, Walsh plans to return to private practice in Denver after stepping down from the DOJ.

“The men and women of the Colorado United States Attorney’s Office, along with their federal law enforcement partners, are unsung heroes who work quietly, fiercely and round-the-clock to do justice and to protect the people of the United States and of Colorado,” Walsh said.

“The opportunity to work with these dedicated and talented professionals, and to work on their behalf to help further their great mission for our country and our wonderful state, has been the greatest professional honor of my life,” Walsh continued. “And it has been an unexpected additional honor – for which my gratitude will be undying -- to have been given the chance by the Attorney General to work nationally as chair of her advisory committee on behalf of the unsung heroes in U.S. Attorneys’ Offices all over the country who have devoted themselves to that same great task.”

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