The race to be the next Mayor of Odessa is heating up, with the two candidates vying for the position trading shots with attack mailers and social media posts.
The now-former District 2 City Councilman Dewey Bryant edged out the first-place seat heading into the runoff election against former City Councilman Javier Joven in the November General Election. Early voting for the second phase of the election – a city-wide December 15 runoff, runs now through December 11.
Bryant’s campaign landed in mailboxes across the city over the weekend, with a large advertisement blasting his opponent for making “Dishonest Attacks” against Bryant.
Bryant’s mailer states that Joven has “repeatedly misused a news story regarding a San Antonio Bank and a San Antonio area man (who has been indicted for committing bank fraud against multiple banks including Southwest Bank in Odessa)”
The mailer continues saying that Joven “falsely suggested Southwest Bank was somehow behind the alleged fraud” and ends by asking what kind of person would falsely blame an “innocent local business for political gain?” Bryant serves as the President of Southwest Bank.
Joven’s campaign was asked to provide examples of all campaign material or advertisements they have made regarding Bryant or his bank as it relates to bank fraud as Bryant’s mailer suggests.
Joven responded by saying his campaign sent out one flyer that in a single sentence that said, “Bryant’s bank was recently sued in a $13,000,000 bank fraud Ponzi scheme.”
Lone Star Voice looked into the issue and produced a blow-by-blow account of the complex legal proceeding surrounding the allegations that are being made.
Here is what we know.
In late July of this year, the Bank of San Antonio (TBOSA) filed a lawsuit in the state district court of Comal County naming ten defendants, including Southwest Bank, making claims against each defendant for any parts they may have played in a massive bank fraud scam that resulted in defrauding the San Antonio Bank of over $13 million in a factoring scheme.
Factoring is the business where businesses needing to increase their cash flow may sell off invoices or accounts receivables for less than their face value, allowing the investor to collect the difference in profit from the debtor. The lawsuit explains that the “reliance on the account debtor for payment places a heavy emphasis on the evaluation and monitoring of the customer’s accounts receivable, including the creditworthiness of the account debtor, the documentation supporting the sale, and the relationship of the customer to the account debtor.”
Therefore, it is essential for anyone in the factoring business to thoroughly vet their customers.
According to the lawsuit, two of the defendants, Ronald Schroder and Isaiah Navarrete created a factoring company called Titan Factoring in 2014, and then sold the company to Southwest Bank and stayed on in various capacities. Navarrete was even made an advisor to the board of directors of Southwest Bank.
A news article published in the Odessa American at the time quoted Dewey Bryant praising both Schroeder and Navarrete, saying “The great thing about this is the two people associated with it — they are just fine, fine individuals,” Bryant said, “We’ve known them for a long time and are glad to have them associated with the bank.”
The lawsuit states that two years later in late 2019 and thereafter, Schroeder and Navarrete induced TBOSA into buying receivables from Southwest Bank, fraudulently misrepresenting the age and validity of the accounts. But it doesn’t end there.
The suit continues saying that if the accounts receivables were not repurchased and therefore not collectible, then “Southwest Bank and/or Southwest Bank Factoring, LLC had a duty to publicly disclose these charge-offs on their quarterly call reports. Had Plaintiffs known the true aged status of the receivables, it would not have agreed to invest in the factoring deal touted by Schroeder.”
The Bank of San Antonio’s Allegation Against Southwest Bank and Dewey Bryant
Southwest Bank is specifically being sued by the Bank of San Antonio for breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, restitution, and could even seek punitive damages.
As to the accusations against Bryant and Southwest Bank, the lawsuit says the plaintiffs intend to use discovery to reveal what Bryant, Southwest Bank, and others knew or should have known regarding the allegations they raise.
“Discovery will soon determine whether Paul Weaver, Dewey Bryant, Isaiah Navarrete, Lori Acosta, Yvette Carrasco, and Kaylen Shorey, knew or should have known these facts”, the case states.
The FBI and Federal Indictments
On November 10, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas issued a press release announcing the indictment of 5 individuals for bank fraud and money laundering relating to allegations raised in TBOSA’s civil suit.
Ronald Schroeder was among the five individuals arrested by federal agents for defrauding Southwest Bank, the Bank of San Antonio, and Trans Pecos Bank over his alleged factoring scheme.
The press release also states that the FBI is still conducting an ongoing investigation.
Bryant and his bank have declared that the federal indictments have completely vindicated them of any wrongdoing in the factoring scheme and that it proves they were victims of the fraud perpetrated by Schroeder and others.
An attorney representing the Bank of San Antonio did not appear to be ready to completely acquit Southwest Bank and Bryant, telling the San Antonio News-Express upon the announcement of the indictments that “There’s no question the invoices we purchased from Southwest Bank were fake, severely aged and uncollectable, but whether Southwest Bank knew that or not is still up in the air.”
As of publication, the lawsuit against Southwest Bank is ongoing, and there has yet to be any revelations regarding TBOSA’s investigation via discovery into what people at the bank knew about the allegations raised in the suit.
While the FBI acted on pursuing some of the criminal aspects that were raised in the civil suit, we do not know what else they are investigating.
It is important to note that neither Dewey Bryant nor Southwest Bank has been charged with any crime, nor have they lost any civil cases – and they were the victims of a bank fraud scheme to the extent the indictments reveal.
It is fair to say, however, that Bryant’s bank is being sued over the incident and the extent of anyone’s involvement at the bank is yet to be determined.
Time will soon tell.
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