Talk about a tale that would never end. It turns out that Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo was signing off on shaky loans for more than politicians and celebrities. The WSJ reports that real people were approved, too, though they had to know somebody – or at least know somebody who knew somebody. One Countrywide executive told the Journal, “Angelo would call in and say, literally, ‘My maid needs a loan.’” One example is the daughter of a casino manager who is a friend of Socal car dealer Leo Bunnin who is a friend of Mozilo. The woman, Lindy Morian, and her fiancé, Chris Cooksey, were able to get a loan approved despite problems that should have disqualified them. None of this is illegal, and the CEOs of other companies have undoubtedly done favors for their friends, or friends of friends. Still, it's worth noting that Countrywide was a public company, not Mozilo's fiefdom (though he seems to have run the place as if it were).
Ms. Morian and Mr. Cooksey wanted to buy a $353,000 home in Henderson, Nev., south of Las Vegas. "Tell them I have approved the loan," Mr. Mozilo wrote in a June 8, 2007, email telling a colleague which office should handle the lending. An employee working on it emailed his supervisor, "I WILL handle this one with 'kid gloves,' and this will be a HUGE win for us!" The supervisor then emailed to another colleague: "WOW! We have a referral from Angelo Mozilo." The supervisor said she had told the person working on the loan "to handle it like it's his mom's loan and his life depends on it." However, another internal Countrywide email identified "two big problems" with the application: Ms. Morian was on a leave of absence from work to pursue her education, and the couple already had "spent their down-payment funds." Ms. Morian's father, Mr. Buckles, was "gifting" the 5% down payment.