AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Officials with Bart Reagor’s legal team officially submitted the appeal brief to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this month, challenging the verdict a jury made in October 2021, finding Reagor guilty for making false statements to a bank, as well as the subsequent sentencing to 168 months, or 14 years, in federal prison.
How did we get here?
According to previous reports by MyHighPlains.com, Reagor, who was the co-founder of the Reagor-Dykes Auto Group, filed an appeal after being found guilty of making false statements to a bank in October 2021 in Amarillo Federal Court. Reagor was convicted of lying to the International Bank of Commerce about his intentions to use $1,766,277.77 out of a $10 million capital loan for personal distributions. A jury found Reagor not guilty on two counts of bank fraud.
Reagor, who self-surrendered to a federal prison in Louisiana earlier this month, 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” forfeiture under the sentence, if the judgment and sentence do not change in appeal. This included $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.
What is Reagor’s legal team arguing in the appellate brief?
According to the appeal brief, filed by Reagor’s legal team on May 13 to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, officials brought up one of the key questions during October’s trial: what is the definition of “working capital” and what did the term mean to Reagor when he took distributions from the IBC Bank loan?
During the trial, Reagor’s legal team stressed to the jury that Reagor believed he could repay himself for his previous investment of personal funds into the company. Multiple witnesses brought forward by the defense during the trial also said this kind of distribution was a standard way for working capital to be used.
Reagor’s legal team argues that there is a lack of evidence on whether or not Reagor knew that what he was doing went against the definition of “working capital.” Officials also continued to claim that there was no definition of the phrase throughout the trial, and in the loan documents from IBC, saying that “working capital” is not a term with an “obvious meaning.”
According to previous reports by MyHighPlains.com, “working capital” was defined by officials through the trial as loan proceeds that help provide for the current operations of a business. Officials also used the “working capital” definition used by the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, stating that the phrase is “the differential between current assets and current liabilities.”
Officials also said that in a conversation between Reagor and IBC president William Schonacher, who testified during the trial, there was no discussion on what the term “working capital” meant, which they say proves that he did not knowingly make a false statement to the bank.
“Reagor told IBC he wanted the money for working capital,” the brief reads. “He did not tell the bank that he wanted it ‘to operate his dealerships.’ There is a big difference between the two, given the cloudy meaning of working capital and the fact that it was undefined in the loan agreement… Had the bank loan contract specified that working capital could not be used to pay owner distributions, and Mr. Reagor had then signed that contract, it would have been proof that he knew that working capital could not be used as he intended.”
Overall, Reagor’s legal team is arguing that there is no evidence that Reagor intended to falsify information for IBC Bank. Officials stressed that Reagor “made an error regarding the usage of the funds from the president of the bank’s point of view.”
What’s next in the process?
According to the Legal Information Institute through the Cornell Law School, the appellee, or the party against whom the appeal is filed, is required to file a response within 30 days after the initial brief is submitted. Officials can then file replies through the court.
According to the court documents, Reagor’s team is requesting that oral argument occur for this appeal. While officials believe that the purpose for the appeal is clear, they also believe that an argument surrounding “the lack of sufficient evidence of Reagor’s guilty state of mind” would have a clearer presentation through oral arguments.
Reagor continues to be in custody by the Bureau of Prisons after surrendering on May 9, according to court documents.
This story is developing. Check with MyHighPlains.com for updates