Bank of America's Countrywide unit was ordered to pay $1.3 billion in penalties for defective mortgage loans it sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis, a little more than half of what the U.S. had requested.

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan issued the civil penalty against the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank today in the first mortgage-fraud case brought by the federal government to go to trial.

Countrywide and Rebecca Mairone, a former executive with the mortgage lender, were found liable in October for selling thousands of bad loans to the two government-sponsored enterprises. Mairone was ordered today to pay $1 million.

Countrywide Financial, then based in Calabasas, California, was once the biggest U.S. residential home lender, originating or purchasing about $1.4 trillion in mortgages from 2005 to 2007. The bulk of them were sold to investors as mortgage-backed securities. Bank of America acquired Countrywide in 2008.

Lawrence Grayson, a spokesman for Bank of America, didn't immediately respond to a voice-mail message left at his office seeking comment on the ruling.

The case is U.S. v. Countrywide Financial Corp., 12- cv-01422, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York.

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