Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation - Office of Inspector General

Jury Convicts Five Former Officers and Employees of Banc-Serv Partners in $5 Million Scheme to Defraud the Small Business Administration

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Thursday, August 5, 2021

Jury Convicts Five Former Officers and Employees of Banc-Serv Partners in $5 Million Scheme to Defraud the Small Business Administration

A federal jury convicted five former officers and employees of Banc-Serv Partners LLP (Banc-Serv) — a lending service provider — in a 13-year conspiracy to defraud the Small Business Administration (SBA) in connection with its programs to guarantee loans made to small businesses.  

According to the evidence presented at trial, the defendants — Kerri Agee, 46, of Noblesville, Indiana, former president, chief executive officer and founder of Banc-Serv; Kelly Isley, 40, of Westfield, Indiana, Banc-Serv’s former chief operating officer; Nicole Smith, 44, of Indianapolis, Indiana, a former Banc-Serv employee; Chad Griffin, 48, of Carmel, Indiana, Banc-Serv’s former chief marketing officer; and Matthew Smith, 52, of Westfield, Indiana, Banc-Serv’s co-founder and a former director of a lending institution that originated loans with Banc-Serv — fraudulently obtained SBA-guaranteed loans on behalf of their clients, knowing that the loans did not meet SBA’s guidelines and requirements for the guarantees. The evidence at trial proved that from approximately 2004 until October 2017, the defendants helped originate SBA loans on behalf of various financial institutions and other lenders and, on multiple occasions, fraudulently obtained guarantees for loans that the SBA had deemed ineligible. They did so by, among other things, knowingly misrepresenting what the loans would be used for and unlawfully diverting previously denied loan applications into expedited approval channels at the SBA. When the fraudulently guaranteed loans defaulted, the defendants caused the submission of the reimbursement requests to the SBA to purchase the defaulted loans from investors and lending institutions, thereby shifting some of the losses on the ineligible loans to the SBA.

The fraudulent loans presented at trial totaled approximately $5 million in guaranteed disbursements, which were not eligible for SBA guarantees.

Agee was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution and four counts of wire fraud affecting a financial institution. Isley was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution and two counts of wire fraud affecting a financial institution. Nicole Smith was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution and two counts of wire fraud affecting a financial institution. Griffin was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution. Matthew Smith was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The defendants convicted of conspiracy or fraud affecting a financial institution face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison per count. The charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud carries a maximum sentence of 20 years. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence for each of these defendants after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Inspector General Jay N. Lerner of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG); Special Agent in Charge Paul Keenan of the FBI Indianapolis Field Office; and Inspector General Hannibal “Mike” Ware of the Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General (SBA-OIG) made the announcement.

The FDIC-OIG, the FBI and the SBA-OIG investigated the case. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief William E. Johnston and Trial Attorney Vasanth Sridharan of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. Trial Attorney Brandon Burkart provided significant assistance. The Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General also assisted in the investigation.

The Criminal Division’s Fraud Section plays a pivotal role in the Justice Department’s fight against white collar crime around the country.

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