Story of Tom Rotko’s Acquitted Client Recounted in Oscar-Nominated Film

As detailed in a New York Times article, in June 2015, Tom Rotko won a full acquittal for his client who was a supervisor in the loan origination department at Abacus Bank, a small community-based bank located in Chinatown. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office claimed that over a five-year period senior officers at Abacus Bank sold mortgages to the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) that contained false statements regarding income, assets, and other borrower qualifications. Abacus Bank has the distinction of being the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges following the 2008 financial crisis.

The jury soundly rejected the prosecution’s theory and acquitted Mr. Rotko’s client and Abacus Bank of all charges. But the trial doesn’t tell the whole story. That story is captured by Steve James in his award winning and Oscar-nominated documentary Abacus: Small Enough to Jail. The film tells the inspiring story of the Sung family—the owners of Abacus Bank—and how Abacus Bank and its senior officers were unjustly targeted by prosecutors. It also stands as a cautionary tale about prosecutorial overreach and the importance of having skilled and experience counsel whenever dealing with prosecutors and law enforcement.