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Update: Dennis Smiley Jr. Pleads Guilty to Bank Fraud

2 min read

H. Dennis Smiley Jr., the former president of Arvest Bank’s Benton County market, waived indictment Tuesday morning and pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of bank fraud.

Smiley, 52 and under investigation since the spring of 2014, repeatedly used the same Arvest retirement account worth less than $500,000 to secure loans totaling more than $4 million from 20 different lenders in northwest Arkansas.

Not waiting to be indicted by a federal grand jury, Smiley agreed to plead guilty to a charge, called an information, filed directly by federal prosecutors. He entered the plea before U.S. District Judge P.K. Holmes at the federal courthouse in Fayetteville. He was released on a $10,000 bond and will be sentenced at a later date that has not been set.

More: Read the information in the case here, and read the plea agreement here.

Federal sentencing guidelines — assuming a first-time offender who accepts responsibility for one count of bank fraud involving more than 10 victims and a loss of between $2.5 million and $7 million — suggest 51-63 months in federal prison, although the judge has latitude in sentencing. Restitution and supervised release after prison are also likely.

Smiley was represented by Fayetteville attorney W.H. Taylor. Assistant U.S. Attorney Clay Fowlkes represented the federal government.

Smiley resigned from Arvest in March 2014, and Arkansas Business broke the news of the criminal investigation on April 2, 2014. In the 16 months since, Arvest has settled with all of the lenders except Signature Bank of Fayetteville.

Smiley said little in court, answering only standard questions. He said he had sought therapy around the time the news of his suspected fraud was reported.

Fowlkes told Judge Holmes that all of the victims had been notified of the plea hearing, but only Signature Bank sent a representative – Danny Lewis, chief credit officer – to court.

The other victim banks are:

  • BOKF of Tulsa;
  • Bank of Fayetteville;
  • Bank of the Ozarks of Little Rock, which is also successor to another victim bank, Summit Bank of Arkadelphia;
  • Bear State Bank of Little Rock (successor to First Federal Bank of Harrison);
  • Benefit Bank of Fort Smith;
  • Chambers Bank of Danville;
  • Centennial Bank of Conway (successor to Jonesboro’s Liberty Bank of Arkansas);
  • First Bank of Hampton;
  • First National Bank of Fort Smith;
  • First State Bank of De Queen, where Smiley’s father is chairman of the board;
  • Integrity First Bank of Mountain Home;
  • First Security Bank of Searcy;
  • First State Bank of Lonoke; First State Bank of Russellville;
  • First Western Bank of Booneville;
  • Legacy National Bank of Springdale;
  • Simmons First National Bank of Pine Bluff (as successor to Delta Trust & Bank); and
  • Today’s Bank of Huntsville (formerly First State Bank of Northwest Arkansas.
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