Former Oklahoma City banker Dale E. Mitchell was found guilty Monday by a federal jury on five of seven felony counts accusing him of conspiracy to defraud, misapplying bank funds and making false statements to banks.
Mitchell, 49, was found guilty of crimes occurring in 1984 and 1985 while he was chief executive officer of Citizens National Bank and Trust in Oklahoma City, which was declared insolvent in 1986.
The jury deliberated almost eight hours before reaching a decision. Mitchell was acquitted of two counts involving bribery and misapplication of funds. On Friday, U.S. District Judge Lee R. West dismissed another bribery count for lack of evidence.
Mitchell declined comment, but his attorney, Andy Coats, called the guilty verdicts disappointing.
"I just really didn't believe, based on that evidence, they would find him guilty," Coats said.
Mitchell has filed motions to have the jury's guilty verdicts set aside and West has taken those under advisement. Coats said he believes there are "good legal grounds" for the judge to grant an acquittal on all counts due to lack of evidence.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Borden said the evidence "supported the jury's decisions and I think the evidence will be sufficient to stand the post-trial motions raised by the defense. " Mitchell remains free on bond pending sentencing, which will occur in about 60 days following completion of a report by the U.S. probation office.
Two members of the jury, Heather Windle and Michael Jewell, said the banking records and documents with dates and Mitchell's signatures made it clear he was guilty.
"He's a pretty smart guy; it just finally caught up with him," Jewell said.
The jurors said federal prosecutors failed to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt on the two counts of which Mitchell was acquitted.
Mitchell was found guilty of demanding that a California corporation borrow $1.2 million and use the money to buy stock in a Tulsa bank he owned in order for the company to receive a $1 million loan it had requested from Citizens.
The Tulsa Bank of Commerce, of which Mitchell was the largest stockholder, had been required by federal regulators to improve its financial position.
Mitchell's attorneys had alleged the loan had been forced on Management Assistance Group Inc. by convicted bank swindler Charles Bazarian, who also owned stock in the Tulsa bank. The Tulsa Bank of Commerce eventually failed.
Mitchell also was found guilty of failing to disclose to Citizens' loan officers his financial interest in Tolex Energies, which had applied to borrow $1.3 million from the bank.
Federal prosecutors said at the same time Citizens' was considering the loan and prior to its funding, Mitchell negotiated to buy 20 percent of Tolex, to sell Tolex oil and gas properties that he owned, and to become a member of the company's board of directors.
Mitchell had testified that he did not disclose his financial interest in Tolex at the time in order not to influence the decision of the loan committee. Mitchell said he made a full disclosure two weeks after the loan was funded.
The jury also found Mitchell guilty on two false statement counts that he obtained two personal loans totaling more than $1 million. Prosecutors said Mitchell lied about what was available to the banks as collateral.
Mitchell was acquitted of misapplying $26,000 used in the purchase of the Norman home owned by him and his wife, former Oklahoma legislator Cleta Deatherage Mitchell. He also was acquitted of receiving a $140,000 loan from a Littleton, Colo., bank in exchange for his influence in renewing Citizens and the Tulsa Bank of Commerce's participation in a loan to that bank.
In 1988, Mitchell agreed to a permanent removal from banking for the same transactions for which he was indicted. Coats said Mitchell did nothing improper and the only purpose of the agreement reached with federal banking regulators was to "buy peace" with the government.
"Obviously, it wasn't buying peace," Coats said Monday.
Mitchell never would have agreed to the ban had he known the FBI was going to pursue a criminal case, Coats said.
The jury heard no evidence about Mitchell's ban from banking. BIOG: NAME:Archive ID: 524730