From 2004 to 2012, the Justice Department reached 242 deferred and nonprosecution agreements with corporations, compared with 26 in the previous 12 years, and while companies paid huge sums in the settlements, several veteran Justice Department officials say that these settlements emboldened defense lawyers. More crucially, they allowed the Justice Department’s lawyers to “succeed” without learning how to develop important prosecutorial skills. The erosion of the department’s actual trial skills soon became apparent. In November 2009, the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn lost the first criminal case of the crisis against two Bear Stearns executives accused of misleading investors. The prosecutors rushed into trial, failing to prepare for the exculpatory emails uncovered by the defense team. After two days, the jury acquitted the two money managers. “For sure, it put a chill” on investigations says one former prosecutor. “Politicos care about winning and losing.” Federal prosecutors have their own explanation for how only one Wall Street executive landed in jail in the wake of the financial crisis, says Eisinger. "The cases were complex to investigate and would have been infernally difficult to explain to juries."