* Former fed prosecutor to help with mortgage probes
* Schneiderman is co-chair of Obama mortgage task force
By Karen Freifeld
NEW YORK, June 4 New York Attorney General Eric
Schneiderman has hired a former federal prosecutor to help bring
lawsuits over misconduct in the mortgage-backed securities
market during the financial crisis.
Virginia Chavez Romano, a former assistant U.S. attorney in
New York, will help Schneiderman as he coordinates with a
federal task force on the mortgage meltdown, Schneiderman
spokesman James Freedland said on Monday.
The Obama administration formed the task force in January to
probe fraud and abuse in the mortgage-backed securities market.
Schneiderman is co-chairman of the group. So far, little
activity has been made public and federal authorities have been
criticized for not pouring enough resources into the effort.
Romano, who led an investigation into mismarked
mortgage-backed securities while an assistant United States
attorney, is working closely with the task force, Freedland
"Deputy Attorney General Romano brings a wealth of
experience to her role helping to oversee our office's work
investigating potential misconduct that led to crash of the
mortgage market," Freedland said in a statement.
Romano could not be reached for comment.
The group met in Washington last week to "discuss and learn
from ongoing investigations, identify new potential targets and
successful legal theories, and coordinate strategies," Justice
Department spokeswoman Adora Andy said.
While more than 25 civil subpoenas have been issued, the
Justice Department has brought few cases against high-profile
executives or financial institutions since the crisis.
The department closed criminal investigations without
bringing charges against firms whose names are closely tied to
the 2008 crisis, including AIG and Countrywide.
Individual Wall Street players have largely escaped
prosecution, after the Justice Department lost its first
criminal case against two former Bear Stearns hedge fund
managers in 2009.