Small Enough to Jail

DVD - 2017
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Acclaimed director Steve James tells the saga of the Chinese immigrant Sung family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, New York. Accused of mortgage fraud by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., Abacus becomes the only bank prosecuted after the 2008 financial crisis. The indictment and subsequent trial forces the Sung family to defend themselves, and their bank's legacy in the Chinatown community, over the course of a five-year legal battle
Publisher: [Arlington, Virginia] : PBS Distribution, [2017]
Copyright Date: 2017
ISBN: 9781531702205
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (approximately 90 min.) : sound, color ; 4 3/4 in
video file,DVD video,region 1
Other Standard Identifier: 841887033893


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2018 Oscar nominations: Documentary Feature

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Aug 10, 2019

A excellent documentary about the injustice against innocence people and their business.

Aug 08, 2019

Directed by Steve James in 2017, this 90-minute documentary delves into the fraud case of Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown in New York.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. barked up the wrong tree.
He should've brought to trial the wrongdoing mega banks such as Bear Stearns and JP Morgan Chase.

May 25, 2019

I worked for a mortgage lender in the 70's and 80's. We had underwriting guidelines and internal audits to prevent booking toxic loans. Was shocked to learn that only one lender was taken to court. I had heard that a former Walmart employee made $100,000 in a year originating fraudulent loans for borrowers who did not qualify. What a debacle! Lenders were motivated by greed. Taxpayers footed the bill.

May 18, 2019

Great doc. one of my favorites for 2019. Insightful and in depth. This is one to keep on the shelf to watch and review again later.

Jan 25, 2019

More interesting than I thought it would be, focused more on the family and its history than the nitty-gritty of the court case. Deemed "small enough to jail" rather than "too big to fail", Abacus was the only financial institution to actually face criminal charges in the US following the subprime mortgage crisis.

Jan 01, 2019

Seemed like a case of racism.

May 25, 2018

A very interesting documentary about the only bank which was prosecuted for its "misdeeds" after the 2008 financial meltdown.

Accused of lending just so they could "stiff" poor Fannie Mae; they were only guilty, apparently, of not exercising due diligence when it came to verifying their clients' solvency.

It does not reflect well on the federal government that they went after a "mom and pop" (literally) bank, but did not touch any of the big banks, whose crimes were really far worse.

Apr 06, 2018

A very good story of honesty verses government corruption. A family owned company that spotted corruption by employees. They not only revealed them but gave as much evidence as they could dig up to help the government in prosecuting them, just to have a good deed backfire on them via selfish, ruthless, ungrateful government employees. This has happened many times throughout history to the ruin of many lives. I've witnessed it personally against some I know. It will never end in this life so we must chose wisely what we share with who. It's well past time for prosecutors to be prosecuted.

Dec 22, 2017


Although I haven't yet viewed this, I have heard much positive about this documentary, and am well aware of the story and background story. It should again remind people of what a farce and a fraud Cyrus Vance, Jr. is - - a chip off the old block, as his daddy was equally a corrupt politician lacking in integrity. Vance senior was the dude who ordered the NSA director to keep quiet about the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty, as the NSA had the intercepts between the Israeli pilots - - who correctly id'd the vessel as a US Navy ship - - and the Israeli military command and control. [One or several Israeli pilots refused to attack the USS Liberty and would later come forward with the truth. Later, a retired US Navy officer would also eventually, and illegally as he perjured himself earlier, with the truth. LBJ wanted a false flag op in order to invade and occupy Egypt; so what if 34 US military men had to die - - although the swine from Texas, Lyndon Baines Johnson, had meant for the entire crew to perish!]

Nov 07, 2017

And the chief prosecutor Cyrus Roberts Vance Jr. (Goliath) against the community family owned bank (David) seemed to have utterly escaped any negative repercussion after putting the bank's family through nearly three and a half years of hell!

Note: October 12, 2017 CNN: Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance on Wednesday defended his office's decision not to prosecute disgraced Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein or members of the Trump family (See link to CNN report in "Summary."

7.7/10 IMDb
92% Rotten Tomatoes
4/4 Roger Ebert

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Nov 07, 2017

In Chinese culture, the line between a gift and a loan is very blurry, to the extent where there isn’t even really a distinction when it’s coming from your parents or your relatives.
This is what immigrants have always done. Jewish families did it. Irish families did it. Italian families did it. Chinese families do it.
The way that the law was read to is that under each charge, all of the different elements had to be met.
The Chinese has a saying. If you want a really hard, sharp steel, make a sword, you have to go through fire. This experience should make my daughters stronger, make them better person.

Nov 07, 2017

There are two types of mortgage fraud that generally occur. We call them fraud for profit and fraud for home. There are a certain number of people who commit the crime of mortgage fraud because they lie on their application to get a loan for the home that they want to live in.

Is it technically a crime? Absolutely. Is it a crime that is worth the resources of a State or Federal government? Absolutely not. These are low default rates on these types of loans. The losses are relatively minor.

The other types of fraud, fraud where there really was never any intention to pay the mortgage, it was just about reaping profit as quickly as possible, or fraud that went into these complex securities that were built, when the knowledge that there was little to no chance that these loans are going to get repaid, that’s where the resources need to go.


Add a Summary
Nov 07, 2017

Washington (CNN)Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance on Wednesday defended his office's decision not to prosecute disgraced Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein or members of the Trump family.
He denied specifically that any donations to his campaign had or would ever influence his decisions. Weinstein was accused of sexual assault in 2015, and Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. were investigated earlier this decade for allegedly misleading real estate buyers.
Vance's office has faced criticism for accepting a $10,000 donation from David Boies, an attorney for Weinstein, in August 2015, according to campaign financial disclosure forms from the New York State Board of Elections. The donation came just months after Vance's office declined to press charges against Weinstein. Stephen Sigmund, a spokesman for Vance, said in a statement that Boies was not Weinstein's lawyer in that criminal case.
And a recently published report said a lawyer for the Trump family donated to Vance's re-election campaign shortly before his office dropped a fraud investigation.



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