Big Guys Too Expensive To Prosecute

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Sopan Deb
Rock Center/NBC News

An emotional Charlie Engle emerged from Dismas Charities, a halfway house in Greensboro, N.C., and greeted his two teenage sons, telling them he could not have done it without them.

He was referring to the prison term he just finished serving (most of it at a federal prison in Beckley, W. Va.) for mortgage fraud.

“The second I walked out that door and I was no longer in prison,” Engle told Rock Center’s Harry Smith.  “It’s almost impossible to explain the feeling, but it is just that sense that OK, now I can be here for my boys again.”  Engle’s interview airs Thursday, Nov. 15 at 10 p.m./ 9 p.m. Central on NBC.

Engle spent a year and half in prison for his role in the financial crisis.  But he didn’t work on Wall Street and he was not a banker.  He was convicted of exaggerating his income on his mortgage applications – a common practice during the housing boom.

While many big banks were chastised for risky behavior in lending by Congress, they got bailouts worth billions.  Charlie Engle, meanwhile, was the target of a federal case involving an undercover operative, a dogged IRS agent and conspiring mortgage lenders.

Engle’s troubles started because of his passion for long distance running in extreme environments.

“The run across the Sahara ended up being a little over 4,600 miles,” Engle said. “We basically ran about 50 miles per day, every single day, for 111 consecutive days without taking a single day off.”

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