AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — During Thursday’s sentencing hearing in Amarillo Federal Court, Reagor-Dykes Auto Group co-founder Bart Reagor was sentenced to 168 months, or 14 years, in federal prison after being found guilty in October 2021 of making false statements to a bank.
According to previous reports, 55-year-old Reagor was convicted of intentionally using $1,766,277.77 out of a $10 million capital loan from the International Bank of Commerce (IBC) for personal gain after officials told the bank that it was solely to be used for the growth of the auto group. A jury took more than two days to deliberate Reagor’s fate. While Reagor was found guilty for making false statements to a bank, he was found not guilty on two counts of bank fraud.
Along with the sentence, Reagor is required to pay $9,378,817.28 in restitution to IBC Bank along with $1,760,000 in the form of a “money judgment.” This forfeiture includes the $950,951.18 seized out of a bank account belonging to Reagor in late 2018. After the time served, Reagor will serve five years under supervised release.
This comes after the auto group’s overall fall in July 2018. According to previous reports by MyHighPlains.com, Ford Motor Credit Company filed a lawsuit against the auto group in July 2018 with accusations of floor plan fraud. At the time, various banks also accused the auto group of check-kiting practices. The accusations led to the auto group’s bankruptcy in August 2018.
After the bankruptcy, 15 of the auto group’s former employees were sentenced to more than 400 months of federal prison combined related to their respective fraud charges. Reagor’s charges however were not related to that specific check-kiting and floor plan fraud schemes.
After Reagor’s trial, his defense team fought back against the verdict, as well as a forfeiture order associated with the guilty verdict.
According to previous reports, Matthew J. Kacsmaryk – the U.S. District Judge who oversaw the case – let the conviction stand, saying at the time that there was evidence for a rational jury to find that the prosecution “met its burden of proving the elements of false statement to a bank beyond (a) reasonable doubt.”
What happened during Thursday’s sentencing?
Thursday’s sentencing began with Kacsmaryk going through multiple objections from both the prosecution and the defense on certain details in the pre-sentence report. This included a sustained objection that the aforementioned floor plan fraud scheme be looped in as “relevant conduct” as part of Reagor’s sentencing.
While Kacsmaryk said it was a “close call,” he said that there was no evidence that Reagor knew that the floor plan fraud, initiated by Reagor-Dykes Chief Financial Officer Shane Smith, was occurring. Other objections brought forward by officials during Thursday’s hearing included the amount of restitution Reagor should pay to IBC Bank as well as multiple objections surrounding his overall role as the co-owner of Reagor-Dykes Auto Group.
Prior to hearing from the multitude of Reagor’s family and friends, filing the Amarillo Federal Courtroom gallery Thursday, Kacsmaryk outlined that the initial sentencing guidelines for Reagor were set at 135 to 168 months in federal prison, with two to five years of supervised release.
Even though Reagor did not have any prior criminal convictions, Kacsmaryk said that the range in prison time was determined for many reasons, including Reagor’s bullying nature and his overall character, helping result in the collapse of the auto group. Kacsmaryk also spoke about Reagor’s comment after the initial conviction, calling the jury “nonsensical,” not taking responsibility for his actions and painting himself as the victim.
Officials from the prosecution, however, pushed for a longer sentence. In a presentation that aimed to convince the judge to give a longer sentence, Jeffery Haag, a member of the prosecution’s counsel, played clips of Reagor speaking with colorful language during sales meetings, what officials said was footage of Reagor berating his employees.
The prosecution stressed that justice served, in this case, is holding Reagor accountable for the culture of corruption and greed he instituted at the Reagor-Dykes Auto Group and all the harm that flowed from it. Haag also stressed the importance of justice being served for IBC Bank, the auto group’s customers and its employees, as well as overall West Texas values, including honesty and integrity.
John Markham, an attorney based out of Boston who now represents Reagor on his defense counsel team, said that the footage shown during the hearing was not sinister, stressing that that is how the government was interpreting the footage. The clips from the sales meetings were hyperbolic in nature, comparing the footage to a football coach, motivating their players from the sidelines.
Markham also highlighted the 93 character statements, as well as the seven in-person character statements made during Thursday’s sentencing hearing. He said that those statements say more about Reagor than things that were heard on “hyperbolic tapes.”
The seven in-person character statements made during Thursday’s sentencing hearing gave the opportunity for members of Reagor’s family, including Reagor’s wife and kids, to speak about his ongoing medical issues, after recently being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, as well as his generous nature.
Annette Reagor, Bart Reagor’s wife, said that her husband leads by example and does not “lie, cheat or steal, and would not ask anybody else to do so.” She also said that she believes it would be a huge injustice for Bart Reagor to spend “even one day” away from family in federal prison.
Bart Reagor also got the chance to speak for himself during the allocution portion of the hearing. To start, Reagor thanked God, his family and his friends for their support and their belief in him.
While he said he was sorry for the “sorrow, pain, financial hardship (and the) losses” that the collapse of the Reagor-Dykes Auto Group caused, Reagor continued to maintain his innocence, saying that he will challenge the conviction on appeal.
What did officials say after the hearing?
Reagor spoke to members of the media after Thursday’s sentencing hearing, saying that he thought that Kacsmaryk was very fair in his ruling. But Reagor continued to maintain his innocence, saying that the appeal will be filed in the next few days.
“Our family is just looking forward to the appeal,” Reagor said. “I know I’m innocent and we are going to win the appeal.”
In a statement after the sentencing, Markham also spoke about how thankful they were for the treatment of the judge during Thursday’s hearing. However, he stressed that there are some things that they will appeal.
“This is a tough case. He believes he’s innocent,” Markham said. “He has his right to appeal. I was very pleased with what I thought was the fairness of the court in considering everything… I’ve never seen a judge be this painstakingly… detailed in everything that he did. We are stuck with the conviction unless we get it reversed on appeal.”
After the hearing, Haag thanked everyone involved, including the FBI, for all its efforts during this case.
“We want to thank the Court for a very thorough and considerate sentencing hearing,” Haag said. “The Court made very thorough findings of all the facts and we respect the Court’s decision.”
In a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas, Chad E. Meacham, the U.S. Attorney, said he feels that this sentence shows that the U.S. Justice Department will not “tolerate abuse” of financial institutions.
FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno said in the release that the sentence “sends a clear message to any criminal who uses corporate fraud for their own personal gain.”
“Financial crimes can destroy businesses which in turn causes irreparable damage to our economy,” DeSarno said in the release. “The FBI and our law enforcement partners will not tolerate this behavior. We will vigorously pursue anyone that uses their executive position to defraud a lending institution, investors, or the public.”
Officials said that Reagor’s appeal is required to be filed within 14 days Reagor will be required to self-surrender to federal prison before 2 p.m. May 9. Officials from both the prosecution and the defense recommended that Reagor serve his term at the Federal Medical Center facility in Fort Worth with his ongoing medical issues.