published on April 21, 2016 - 5:36 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

(AP) — A California-based federal prosecutor whose office secured multi-billion dollar settlements after the housing meltdown announced Wednesday that he is resigning as President Barack Obama’s administration begins to wind down.


Benjamin Wagner, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California, said he will step down at the end of April.

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert will become acting U.S. attorney on May 1.
California-based Wagner was appointed to the post in 2009 by Obama. The region from Bakersfield to the Oregon border was among the hardest hit by the housing crisis.

Settlements Wagner reached include last week’s $5 billion agreement with Goldman Sachs and a $13 billion payment by JPMorgan Chase in 2013.

Prosecutors alleged both mislead investors over the quality of residential mortgage-backed securities as millions of residents lost their homes nationwide.

Nearly 300 individuals were convicted in mortgage frauds that Wagner’s office said cost homeowners millions of dollars.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, in a statement, praised Wagner’s vigorous prosecution of mortgage fraud cases as well as his near quarter-century in the federal prosecutor’s office.

Among other significant cases during his tenure was the prosecution of officials with one of the nation’s leading tomato processing companies.

SK Foods owner Frederick Scott Salyer and others were convicted in a price-fixing scam that included bribing buyers at food giants.

His office also secured a $122 million settlement with the state’s largest private landholder, Sierra Pacific Industries, over a massive wildfire.

As an assistant, Wagner helped prosecute two arsonists whose targets were reproductive health care clinics and two brothers who burned three Sacramento synagogues.

Wagner, 56, said in a statement that he plans to seek a job at a Northern California law firm after he leaves office. It is traditional for U.S. attorneys to resign as presidential administrations change hands.


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