Search Site

Big Payout Rings Bank of America Fraud Trial

Money, not morality, is the principle commerce of civilized nations. – Thomas Jefferson

Edward O’Donnell, a former executive at Countrywide Financial, Inc., may collect up to $1.6 million under an almost forgotten 1980s law. O’Donnell filed a whistleblower suit against the Bank of America last year under the False Claims Act, which empowers whistleblowers to bring cases on behalf of the government against companies that are defrauding the U.S. government. Before trial, the judge dismissed the government’s claims under the False Claims Act which terminated O’Donnell’s opportunity to collect an award of 15 percent to 30 percent of the penalties collected by the government. Fortunately, O’Donnell also filed a whistleblower claim with the Justice Department under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA). 

The case against Bank of America

O’Donnell’s complaint alleges that Countrywide Financial Corp, a unit of Bank of America, knowingly issued defective mortgages under its High Speed Swim Lane program and sold them to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. As part of the HSSL, Countrywide increased profits by the replacing underwriters with inexperienced loan specialists who were directed to meet quotas at the expense of quality.

What is the FIRREA?

Enacted in the late 1980s during the savings and loan crises, the FIRREA empowers a whistleblower to file a declaration with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) detailing violations of the FIRREA affecting depository institutions. If the DOJ investigation leads to financial penalties, the whistleblower may collect a significant award. Filing under FIRREA has a major advantage in that it provides civil penalties for any number of criminal violations which means the government only needs to prove its case by the civil preponderance of the evidence standard. There is no need to prove loss or damage because the act provides for civil penalties for violations regardless of loss. 

The criminal violations for which a FIRREA civil penalty can be assessed include the following:

  • Mail and wire fraud
  • Bank fraud
  • Corruption, bribery and gifts
  • Utilizing forged, false or counterfeit statements to influence the Federal Depository Insurance Corporation
  • Presenting a false or fraudulent claim to the U.S.
  • Committing fraud or swindles with securities
  • Using a false statement or intentionally overvaluing land, property or security to affect government housing agencies
  • Conspiracy to execute any of the above 

There are numerous federal provisions containing whistleblower provisions in addition to the False Claims Act and FIRREA.  A knowledgeable Dallas whistleblower attorney can guide you through your whistleblower claim.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Awards & Honors
Our Office
  • Dallas Office
    4514 Cole Ave
    Dallas, Texas 75205
    Phone: 214-306-8045
    Fax: 469-729-9926
As Seen In
In his new book, "Standing Up to China: How a Whistleblower Risked Everything for His Country," former client & Author, Ashley Yablon, quotes Attorney Steve Kardell about Whistelblower Law.
  • "Steve Kardell was terrific in representing me in some very adversarial discussions with Citigroup and also later represented me in my testimony before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission."  -Richard Bowen, Citigroup Whistleblower

  • "Incredible knowledge of employee related concerns and equally brilliant knowledge of health care regulations, standards of practice. I would recommend this firm to anyone."  -V.B.

  • "Reaching out to Steve Kardell was the best decision I made. His ability to provide immediate insight and direction was very powerful, and a huge relief during a very stressful time period. For anyone struggling with a whistleblower situation, I would highly recommend at least speaking with Steve. After a 10 minute call with him, I had a better understanding of what I was dealing with. Even better, he gave me some immediate hope. In the end Steve did a better job than I thought was possible. Steve was able to get in contact with people in my organization, that I didn’t have access to. Because of his years of experience, he already has contacts in many organizations in Dallas. The entire situation was handled peacefully. I was impressed by his ability to “keep the peace”–rather than creating a battle with the organization. The reason I didn’t reach out to a lawyer initially, was because I thought it would mean an immediate end to any hope of a positive relationship with the company. Steve was able to address my concerns, and in the end I was able to continue to work for them."  -KS

  • "Never thought my career would end like it did after 30 years of service. I was part of the first round of the so called reduction of force. I asked myself how can I be part of this with 30 years of seniority. How did they pick these 90 plus employees? Now, the culture of this organization made you question every decision they made. It wasn’t what you knew it’s was a culture of who you know. Nonetheless, I did not accept their severance package. I immediately starting looking for an attorney who would take on my case. After the initial call to Steve I had hope again. He was open and honest about everything and reassured me he would do his best for me, and he did. I had an awesome outcome. Thanks Steve you’re the best."  -S.S.