Taxpayers may pay legal bills for mortgage execs

WASHINGTON - When the government took over mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, taxpayers inherited more than just bad debts. They're also potentially on the hook for tens of millions of dollars in legal fees for the executives at the center of the housing market's collapse.

"Who'd have thought we might be on the hook for paying the defense costs when we're also paying the prosecution costs?" said Doug Heller, executive director of Consumer Watchdog, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based group that has been critical of the financial bailout packages. "To defend the economy from the havoc that's been created, we're going to defend the havoc creators?"

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