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Bart Reagor Found Guilty For Lying To Bank

Sarah Self-Walbrick
Texas Tech Public Media
Bart Reagor leaving the courthouse after the verdict was announced.

After deliberating longer than counsels presented their cases, former Lubbock car dealer Bart Reagor was found guilty on one count for making a false statement to a financial institution. He was found not guilty for two counts of bank fraud.

Reagor will be sentenced at a later date and was released under the same terms he adhered to pre-trial. He faces up to 30 years in federal prison for the charge, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The 12-person jury was tasked with determining Reagor’s culpability based on the evidence presented in court over the four-day trial. They were only charged with delivering a verdict, not deciding a punishment.

In three notes between the start of deliberation Thursday morning and midday Friday, the jury wrote to Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk saying they were deadlocked and could not come to an agreement. At that point, Reagor’s defense motioned for a mistrial. Instead, Kacsmaryk invoked an Allen charge. That’s a legal device that allows a court to encourage jurors to continue deliberating and reconsider the points they can’t agree on.

When jurors were told they needed to continue deliberating, one took off their glasses and rubbed their eyes, visibly annoyed.

The final verdict came just over an hour later.

The former car dealer was accused of taking for personal use $1.76 million of a $10 million business loan from International Bank of Commerce. This case is separate from the Reagor Dykes Auto Group fraud scheme cases and bankruptcy that have been in courts since August 2018.

The loan was approved in 2017 to be used for working capital for the, at the time, growing business.

The loan agreement did not specifically highlight that use as a violation, though two International Bank of Commerce bankers who worked on the loan said they would not have approved it had they known some of it would be used for personal matters.

The two witnesses met with Reagor and other Reagor Dykes Auto Group leadership in a April 2017 meeting. At the time, the bankers said they were impressed with the company’s growth and success. It was stressed in their testimony that Reagor did most of the talking in this meeting.

Prosecutors pointed to an email Reagor sent to former chief financial officer Shane Smith and business partner Rick Dykes as proof that he intended to use the money personally and not solely for business. In the email sent before the loan was finalized, Reagor emphasized this needed to stay confidential and between the email chain.

The prosecution said in closing arguments the timing of the email is what makes this a fraud case. They also highlighted that the perspective of International Bank of Commerce, and not that of Reagor’s, was what jurors should consider.

The defense argued that since the offense was not specifically mentioned in the loan agreement Reagor signed, he did not know it was something he should not do, let alone something that’s illegal. It was noted by both witnesses and attorneys that Reagor likely did not read the contract.

Some of the evidence presented included profanity-laden audio and video clips from Reagor Dykes Auto Group sales meetings, where Reagor would discuss business strategies in colorful ways. Reagor’s attorney Dan Cogdell did not sugarcoat his client’s personality. In his closing statements, the lawyer emphasized that Reagor’s character and likeability were not aspects jurors should consider in their deliberation.

Throughout the trial, Reagor was much more demure than most Lubbockites remember him being. He whispered to his family and counsel, but mostly kept to himself. When the not guilty verdict was read, one family member gasped with relief. As the guilty verdict was announced, Reagor dropped his head and shook “no.”

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