LUBBOCK, Texas — The Bart Reagor criminal case went before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals for oral arguments Monday.
Reagor, the co-owner of Reagor Dykes Auto Group, was convicted of making false statements to a bank in October 2021. The conviction came after his company collapsed into bankruptcy. Specifically, Reagor took more than $1.7 million out of the company shortly after a $10 million loan from IBC Bank.
A three-judge panel heard from Reagor’s attorney John J. E. Markham, II and the U.S. government’s attorney Amanda R. Burch.
Markham argued that Reagor specifically negotiated the right to take money from the company after the loan.
“It seems to me that the evidence of his state of mind is smack-dab presented by the fact they [Reagor Dykes] asked for a change, and the bank went along with it,” Markham told the panel. “They made it clear they were going to take [money for the owners].”
However, Markham conceded Reagor was not allowed to take money in a way that would cause the company to default on the loan. Ultimately, Reagor Dykes Auto Group defaulted on the loan, but Markham argued it was because of the criminal behavior of other employees, not Reagor, which led to default.
Burch argued that Reagor lied to the bank about how the money would be used in the first place.
Burch argued the specifics of the loan agreement are less important than whether Reagor intended to deceive the bank.
Burch said, according to Reagor, “He needed the money because he had these big visions about what he wanted for [the business].”
Burch said Reagor told the bank, “In 18 to 24 months, he wanted it to go public.”
But instead, Burch said, Reagor’s plan all along was simply to take the money for himself.
Both sides agreed that the appeals court must view the case in a way that is most favorable to the jury’s verdict – which was a verdict of guilty. No ruling was made on Monday which is typical for the oral arguments at the appellate level.
If the appeals court agrees with Reagor, the case will go back to a federal judge in Amarillo. If not, Reagor will continue to serve 14-year prison sentence.