Page 7 - Ohio Vol 5 No 2
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MARC DANN | Opinion
Sometimes People Just Gotta Go to Jail
I’m a big believer in the civil jus- tice system. I’ve spent my entire career working in it. I’ve used it
to help thousands of clients and hold lots of bad actors accountable for their actions. But sometimes people just gotta go to jail.
I say that because for the second time in a decade, unfettered corporate greed is devastating American fami- lies and communities. Ten years ago, the carnage was caused by bankers and speculators who created risky, ul- timately worthless mortgage-backed securities and engaged in predatory lending.  eir misdeeds led to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and the near meltdown of the global economy. Nearly 10 million families lost their homes, millions more lost billions in equity and were le  broke and hopeless. Many victims are still struggling to rebuild their lives.
As the housing crisis began to ebb, signs of the next pro t-driven ca- tastrophe to beset the nation began to emerge. It was touched o  when members of the Sackler family, own- ers of Purdue Pharma decided to use any means necessary to vastly in- crease sales of Oxycontin, the compa- ny’s highly addictive opioid painkiller. Within a few years, the scourge of opi- oid addiction was sweeping across the country. And while the housing crisis and the opioid/heroin epidemic were both spawned by corporate greed, there’s one signi cant di erence: the victims of the drug epidemic aren’t at- tempting to rebuild their lives.  ey’re dead.
At  rst glance, you may fail to see the similarities that exist between the bankers who robbed millions of Americans of their life savings and the drug company executives who have, to date, robbed 400,000 people of their lives. But the parallels are stark and disturbing. Like the  nanciers who invented credit default swaps
and collateralized debt obligations, the Sacklers set out to create a mar- ket for a faulty product, paid once- responsible people lots of money to foist it o  on unsuspecting customers, then sat back and blithely watched as billions of dollars in revenue  owed in and chaos ensued.
 e similarities don’t end there. Both schemes were aided and abet- ted by industry watchdogs. In the case of the  nancial crisis, Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s continued to rate mortgage-backed bonds “Triple A” even though they were  lled with junk. Banks and mortgage companies then paid brokers huge fees to peddle the junk and bribed appraisers to in ate the value of homes that were bundled into the securities.
Purdue funded self-serving sci- enti c studies that produced fudged data about the long-term use of opi- oids, distributed that data to thou- sands of physicians, pharmacists, and nurses during conferences held at luxury resorts, more than doubled its sales force, and paid reps who pro- duced increased OxyContin sales $40 million in bonuses.
Regulators were also complicit in both crises. Just as the SEC and other  nancial cops ignored what was hap- pening in the mortgage market, the agencies charged with supervising the drug industry were asleep at the switch.
Despite rules requiring drug dis- tributors and pharmacists to report unusual orders of controlled sub- stances to the government, billions of pills continued to  ood markets across the U.S. for years. Between 2007 and 2012 pharmaceutical com- panies sold 780,000,000 hydrocodone and oxycodone pills in West Virginia.  at’s 433 pills for every man, woman, and child in the state. No one said a word until the bodies began to pile up. When regulators did  nally act by
cracking down on doctors who were over-prescribing pain meds, many ad- dicted patients were forced to turn to heroin dealers
Now I’ve reached the point in the story where I hope against hope the similarities will end. In the a ermath of the 2008 housing meltdown, many of the largest banks paid billions in  nes and penalties using bailout mon- ey supplied by the very taxpayers who had been defrauded and funds that should have been distributed to share- holders. But not one senior banking executive was indicted, convicted, or jailed. Instead, the feds spent billions to bail out the  nance industry and o ered only slight assistance to the millions of Americans who lost their homes and their dreams.
Not surprisingly, homeowners were stunned and outraged when they learned that the billionaires who had stolen their houses were allowed to walk — or Lear Jet or yacht — away scot free.  at should not have been the way the mortgage crisis ended. Some people, lots of people should have gone to jail.
Today, the Justice Department and state attorneys general are taking the same tack with Purdue that they did with banks.  ey’re bringing civil actions and attempting to claw back some of the billions the Sackler family made by merchandising death.
But that’s simply not good enough. If the Sacklers were street-corner drug pushers rather than billionaires they would be facing life in prison or worse. Taking some of their money won’t deter bad behavior and it’s cer- tainly not just
punishment for
the havoc they
have wreaked
in communities
across this coun-
Former Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann has been  ghting for homeowners, consumers and small businesses since he began his private practice in 1990. Upon leaving of ce in May 2008, Dann volunteered to represent homeowners facing foreclosure and became even more concerned about the standing of certain servicers to foreclose on his clients. Recognizing that the problem of fraudulent foreclosure practices was epidemic in Ohio, Marc Dann established the Dann Law Firm representing more than 500 homeowners in foreclosure in more than 65 different counties in Ohio.

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