Harris and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced the creation of a 25-person task force to target businesses that Harris says helped cause the downfall of the housing market and put thousands of houses into foreclosure.
"California, as the biggest state in the country, was hit the hardest," said Harris. "Last year alone there were nearly 550,000 foreclosure filings against California homes."
A team of 17 lawyers and eight special agents from the state Department of Justice will make up the task force and will concentrate on pursuing three areas of the mortgage mess:
- Corporate fraud
- Fraudulent lending practices
"The American Dream -- for most of us, home ownership is a pillar of that dream, and too many people in this city have lost that dream," said Villaraigosa at Monday's news conference.
How tough will it be to prosecute the criminals?
Anthony Mozilo, former CEO of Countrywide Financial, agreed to a multimillion-dollar settlement recently, but was never criminally prosecuted.
"Where there is the evidence to prove a crime, you can be sure those crimes will be prosecuted," said Harris.