July 27, 2021

Delaney Sexton
Contributing Editor

Hot Topic Tuesday – banc-serv Defense Claims “They Got Us” Email is Out of Context

Attorney William Johnston made the opening statements for the government. He says that banc-serv claimed to be the experts regarding SBA loan packages and was a “one-stop-shop” for lenders, and he referred to the banc-serv fraud as a “slush fund”. Johnston outlined the case with three points: how the SBA and banc-serv works, how the scheme operated, and how they will prove the defendants’ guilt with evidence and witness testimonies. He plans on calling SBA, lender, and employee witnesses.

Kerri Agee’s attorney Jonathan Bont was confident and well-spoken in his opening statement. He implies that banc-serv and the government had a mutual relationship where they used one another to improve their own situation, especially during the Great Recession. Agee started as a lender, and her role expanded to being a leader quickly during her time at banc-serv. Bont also brings up that the rules and regulations in SBA can be up for individual interpretation because they are not explicit. He tells the jury not to fall for the “they got us” email because it is out of context.

James Voyles is the attorney for Kelly Isley, and he expresses how busy she was. Isley would get over 400 emails a day, received calls, and had other assignments constantly loading her. She had minimal training from NAGGL, and SBA rules are constantly changing. Kelly was just a facilitator of loans.

Jamie Edgar is representing Nicole Smith. He says that she is an entry-level employee who was working in a “pressure-cooker” that was understaffed. She would work 60-70 hour weeks with no formal training doing complicated work. Nicole does not have the expertise in SBA lending, and she would often look up to her supervisors for guidance. Her role in the SBA loan packaging ends whenever the application is over. She did not benefit from any of the fraud that she is on trial for.

Chad Griffin’s attorney, Terry Tolliver, says that Griffin was only involved in some of the emails. He sent one email and was CC’d in a few others. As Agee’s brother-in-law, Kerri created a role for him even though he had zero expertise. Chad Griffin essentially had to ask permission throughout the process of his work.

Michael Donahoe, representing Matt Smith, presents the final opening statement. He was fun-spirited at the start of his statement, joking that the jurors might be bored after hearing six opening statements prior to his. He also credits the other attorneys mentioning that he is going after all the other great attorneys before him. Matt barely worked for banc-serv, and he was physically, mentally, and emotionally removed from the company because he was pursuing his own company. Matt Smith hardly appears in the evidence, and Donahoe says that if you can’t get them for anything else, you charge them for conspiracy.