Aug 28

By The Associated Press

A suburban New York county is forgiving $2.4 million in speed camera fines issued in the past month.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano says there were problems with the cameras installed at six school locations.

He tells Newsday ( ) that five cameras issued tickets on days when school was not in session. Cameras at a sixth location began operating prematurely.

Mangano says he is declaring amnesty on the fines. He says enforcement resumes when school opens next month. [read more]

Aug 27

By Don Noel – BizPac

Sometimes, when all hell is breaking loose around the globe, news breaks that touches the heart.

Such was the case with the story of Taylor Morris, an Afghanistan war veteran and former Navy bomb specialist who lost both legs, his right hand and part of his left arm when he stepped on a bomb in 2012, according to a “Fox & Friends Weekend” Facebook entry posted Sunday.

The war hero was waiting for a flight at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas when he twisted the knee joint on one of his artificial legs, popping it out of place, Taylor told “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday, saying he was unable to fix the problem because he had checked his tools in his baggage.

Morris’ girlfriend went in search of help, and, just in time, word reached airport mechanics Keith Duffner and Gary Bliss.

The photo of what happened next has since gone viral. [read more]

Aug 27

By Peter Rudegeair – Reuters

Bank of America Corp has long argued to enforcement officials that it was being forced to pay for the sins of companies it acquired in the crisis, but on Thursday the bank admitted at least some of its mortgage problems happened on its watch.

In a statement of facts that the bank agreed to as part of the settlement, Bank of America said it had sought government insurance on mortgages that did not qualify for that coverage from May 1, 2009, after the crisis had subsided. The bank failed to take basic steps that the Federal Housing Administration demanded banks to take, including verifying borrowers’ income, it said.

Those missteps came after the bank had acquired Countrywide Financial Corp and Merrill Lynch & Co, the two companies responsible for most of the mortgage bond problems the bank admitted to.

The bank agreed to an $800 million settlement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for those loans, which it had sought to bundle into bonds guaranteed by the FHA. That represents a relatively small portion of Bank of America’s overall $16.65 billion settlement with authorities announced on Thursday.

But the facts the bank admitted to underscore that not all of its mortgage problems were inherited. A Bank of America spokesman declined to comment. [read more]

Aug 26

By Sasha Goldstein – New York Daily News

A suburban St. Louis police officer who threatened to kill media members as he pointed his high-powered rifle at a group of people filming Tuesday night’s protests in Ferguson, Mo., has been suspended after video of the incident went viral Wednesday.

The St. Ann, Mo. police officer, who told one man his name was “go f— yourself,” has been “relieved of duty and suspended indefinitely” for his “inappropriate” actions, the St. Louis County Police Department said in a statement to Mashable.

The officer was later identified as Lt. Ray Albers, a 20-year veteran of the force, St. Ann Police Chief Aaron Jimenez told the St. Lous Post-Dispatch.

In the minute-long video clip, the portly, bald police officer is seen pointing his semi-automatic assault rifle at crowds of people walking along a Ferguson street just before midnight Tuesday.

“My hands are up bro, my hands are up,” the reporter, who was using the screen name “Rebelutionary_Z” to livestream the protests, is heard saying.

“Get the f— away from, get the f— away from me,” Albers replies as he wheels around, all the while keeping his high-powered rifle at shoulder level. “I will f—ing kill you, get back!” he screams as he approaches the group, forcing them back onto a sidewalk.

The stunned reporters can barely believe what just happened.

“You’re gonna kill him?” the incredulous photojournalist says as the officer continues to walk. “What’s your name sir?”

“Go f— yourself,” Albers fires back as he keeps moving down the road, his gun still raised. [read more]

Aug 25

By Brad Hoppmann – Uncommon Wisdom

Banks literally have a license to print money. Bank of America (BAC) needs to run the presses even faster after yesterday’s record setting $16.7 billion mortgage securities settlement.

Stockholders and analysts reacted by bidding BAC shares higher. Their logic: the bank finally has the mess behind it.

Are they right? Probably not, and today I’ll tell you why.

We all know — some of us painfully — that the 2007-2009 financial crisis wreaked havoc on stockholders, bondholders, homeowners, regular workers and the entire economy. We are still cleaning up the mess years later.

In September 2013, I wrote about JPMorgan’s $17.3 Billion ‘Cost of Doing Business.’ Back then, JPM had just concluded a settlement similar to the one BAC agreed to this week. CEO Jamie Dimon was unfazed and kept his job.

One would think that bankers might improve their practices after this experience …

Yet, I showed you back in April how Bank of America’s own accountants simply lost track of $2.7 billion. Again, executives yawned and shareholders did not revolt.

In fact, the latest multi-billion dollar settlement does NOT settle Bank of America’s mess. It is only a small part of a much larger mess. [read more]

Aug 25

By Jessica Silver-Greenburg and Michael Corkery - The New York Times

The cycle is a familiar one on Wall Street. First comes a lending boom. And then, after the abuses and excesses of a bubble, there is the government crackdown.

Now, as federal prosecutors and regulators wrap up many of their largest mortgage investigations, they are shifting their focus to another lending boom underway: the market for auto loans to people with shoddy credit.

On Wednesday, the investigations — several are already in the works, people with knowledge of the matter say — fixed on an auto lender in Texas, which the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau accused of tarnishing borrowers’ credit reports.

The lender, First Investors Financial Services Group, agreed to pay a $2.75 million penalty over accusations that it consistently gave giant credit reporting agencies like Experian and Equifax flawed reports about thousands of car buyers. The reports, the agency said, exaggerated the number of times that borrowers fell behind on their bills, a mistake that could jeopardize their ability to find housing or even get jobs.

First Investors, which is owned by a prominent New York private equity firm, did not acknowledge any wrongdoing.

“First Investors showed careless disregard for its customers’ financial lives by knowingly distorting their credit profiles for years,” Richard Cordray, the director of the consumer protection bureau, said on Wednesday.

The action comes as regulators and prosecutors worry that some of the same lending abuses that plagued the mortgage market in the run-up to the financial crisis — and signs that some borrowers’ loan applications included false information about income and employment — are showing up in the subprime auto market, the people familiar with the matter said.

Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, has begun a separate investigation into whether lenders have sold questionable auto-loan investments to investors. The investigation, which has sent subpoenas to General Motors Financial and Santander Consumer USA, two giant auto lenders, is focused on whether the lenders fully disclosed to investors the creditworthiness of borrowers whose loans made up the complicated securities.

Adding to the scrutiny, the Manhattan district attorney’s office is examining a number of potential abuses in the subprime auto loan market, according to two people with knowledge of the investigation. [read more]