- - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Attorney General Eric Holder announced Wednesday a $1.2 billion dollar settlement between Toyota and the U.S. government, ending a criminal probe into Toyota’s disclosure of alleged product defects.

Most Americans, if they pay attention to this at all, will simply see a short blurb on the news with the announcement. They will think no more of it, and almost none of them will realize they are witnessing a $1 billion shakedown of a multinational corporation.

Since 2009, Toyota recalled about 10 million vehicles in the United States. It fixed allegedly faulty brakes, accelerators and even faulty floor mats. Toyota paid $66 million in fines, even though the National Transportation Safety Board could not find anything wrong with Toyota’s cars.

Then came the Department of Justice.

The deal is simple: Justice will file criminal charges against Toyota. Toyota will pay the fine and be placed on a deferred prosecution status for three years. Assuming Toyota stays out of trouble, the charges against the corporation will be dismissed.

The government claims that Toyota misled the public and government about the defects.

The problem is, if the allegations are true, Toyota did not do that. Individuals did that.

Corporations can be held liable for criminal actions. But corporations do not commit crimes. People do.

Over the last few years, prosecutors at the federal level have started using a new and disturbing tactic. They go after the corporation instead of the alleged wrongdoers.

For the corporate executive, the decision is a no-brainer. The federal government comes in and tells the corporation it can either settle and let the corporation take the liability and pay the fine, or the individuals will be prosecuted.

Criminal defense lawyers and prosecutors often have this conversation with parties: “Where do you want to appear on the indictment? As a defendant or as a witness?”

Corporate executives are not the bravest people in the world. When they are told that the Department of Justice has a 98 percent conviction rate and they are looking at decades in prison if convicted, or they can allow their corporation to take the plea and pay millions or in this case billions in fines, it is an easy decision.

The money that will be taken from Toyota is going to go into the general fund of the U.S. Treasury. Those funds will not be going to pay restitution to alleged victims. That money is going to help pay Barack Obama’s bills.

For Toyota, which showed a $5.2 billion profit in the last quarter, this is simply going to be a cost of doing business. Much like paying off organized crime, it is simply a cost.

Decades ago, cities discovered traffic enforcement could be a great revenue enhancer. That’s why there are so many speed traps across the nation. They are simply a random and opportunistic tax.

The Obama Regime has taken this one step further.

Much like organized crime in Chicago, the Obama Regime is now shaking down corporations.

The Toyota case is not about justice. It is about corruption and the departure of America from being a nation of laws to a banana republic.