"The department has aggressively prosecuted a range of complex and sophisticated financial fraud cases, and a number of major investigations are still ongoing," Carr said.
The DOJ has filed charges against nearly 3,000 defendants in mortgage fraud-cases over the past three fiscal years, though those have largely targeted borrowers and "Main Street" scam artists.
"They're simply prioritizing the 'Dick and Mary' cases," said Bill Black, a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a former banking regulator. "They only looked at the small cases and so they only reported the equivalent of white-collar street crime."
Perhaps attempting to rectify this situation, the Justice Department announced a joint state and federal task force in January of last year focused specifically on investigations related to mortgage-backed securities. The creation and sale of faulty mortgage securities, Attorney General Eric Holder wrote in a memo, "contributed significantly to the collapse of the housing market, damaged the public's trust and threatened the safety and soundness of our economy."
But all these months later, critics are still waiting for the task force to mount cases against individuals.
"As in any case, the passage of time makes it more difficult, but what's really needed is the prosecutorial chops and the political will to do it," Kelleher said.