This story is being co-published in partnership with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
The former president of a small-town East Texas bank was sentenced to eight years in federal prison Tuesday for her role in masterminding one of the most extensive cases of bank fraud in Texas history.
Anita Gail Moody, 57, began working at Enloe State Bank as a teenager. The bank is in Delta County, 120 miles northeast of Fort Worth.
After climbing the ranks to president, Moody quietly stole more than $11 million from her workplace using more than 100 fake loans to funnel money to friends and family, she admitted in court documents last year.
The scheme unraveled when Moody set fire to loan paperwork on a boardroom table of the bank in Cooper in May 2019, the weekend before Texas regulators were scheduled to conduct a routine exam of the bank’s books.
Federal agents descended on Cooper, population 2,180, after the fire. The Texas Department of Banking soon closed the bank, which had issued cotton farmers loans since the Great Depression.
For weeks, Texas regulators and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. investigators set up shop and pored over loan documentation between pews at a church next to the bank building, which quickly reopened under new ownership.
Enloe became the first Texas bank to fail in five and a half years. It cost the FDIC’s insurance fund an estimated $21 million and left Delta County residents reeling.
Federal prosecutors charged Moody with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and arson in April of last year. After a judge rejected an initial plea agreement in October, Moody’s eight-year sentence was handed down this week in Sherman by U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant III, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release.
Moody must also pay more than $11 million in restitution, a sum equivalent to amount she siphoned from the bank over years and used to buy a new Jeep, pay off loans to her daughter and fund her boyfriend’s business, among other transactions, according to prosecutors and court documents.
Her deputy, bank vice president Jeannie Swaim, also pleaded guilty to a bank fraud charge and was sentenced in January to two years in prison. Swaim will also need to repay the over $400,000 she channeled to her husband over a period of five years, according to court documents.
An examiner flagged suspicious loans days before Moody set fire to bank documents in May 2019, said Larry Walker, director of the Texas Department of Banking’s Dallas office.
But for years, the scheme went undetected.
“She’s a very, very bright individual, very intelligent,” said Walker of Moody. “She had her fingers on everything at the bank.”
Court document offers rare glimpse into bank president’s life
Since the 2019 fire at Enloe State Bank, Moody has kept quiet. She shut the door when this reporter visited her house in 2019. Through her lawyer, she declined to comment for a Fort Worth Star-Telegram story published last year.
But in November after a judge nixed an initial plea agreement that would have seen Moody serve seven years in prison, Moody used a court filing to tell her side of the Enloe saga. Then, she asked the judge to deviate from sentencing guidelines that lay out prison time at least double what Moody first agreed to.
The document, filed by Moody’s attorney, John Ginn of Sulphur Springs, paints a picture of an isolated woman, who for years battled mental health and substance abuse issues tied to her criminal behavior.
From 1977 until 2019, Moody worked at Enloe State Bank. “It is the only job she has ever had,” the court filing says. The work brought her pleasure.
But it also came with pressure, from “customers and the board members who wanted their dividends,” the filing says. In a “highly patriarchal, male-dominated east Texas environment,” Moody sometimes felt she didn’t “have the power to refuse some customers,” many “like family members,” according to the court filing.
In 2008, against her better judgment, the filing states, Moody began making loans for struggling customers hoping they would “right their ship(s).” At this time, Moody “truly believed she was acting to help her community” and “… did not know her illegal behavior would spin so out of control,” the filing says.
Four years later, Moody began including herself as the beneficiary of the loans, the filing says, although it doesn’t offer an explanation for why. The bank president “knew she was ‘going to jail’” and began to drink “on a daily basis to assuage her feelings of guilt,” it says.
After setting the May 2019 fire, Moody tried to take her own life and spent one week in the hospital, according to the document.
Since, she has started therapy for depression and alcohol abuse, while cooperating with law enforcement. Moody accepts responsibility. “She feels immense remorse, sadness, and dismay about her involvement,” the filing says. “She cannot discuss it without tears.”
The filing goes on to make a variety of arguments for a reduced sentence, including casting blame on the bank’s board members, who “turned a blind eye when the banks’ performance was falsely improved by the criminal conduct.”
To date, no others have been charged in the bank failure.
A seven-year sentence would have been enough to protect the public and provide “just punishment” for a woman who has never served jail time, Moody’s lawyers argued.
In the end, the arguments appear to have had some sway, as Moody’s final eight-year sentence fell well below the guidelines outlined in the filing. The variation was based on her “cooperation,” according to sentencing documents.
Moody must surrender herself on April 9, while the former bank vice president, Swaim, must begin prison time by March 5, according to court documents.
Lawyers for each former bank executive did not immediately return calls to their offices from the Star-Telegram Tuesday afternoon.
Little oversight for years of president’s fradulent lending
A year-long examination of the Enloe State Bank case by a federal watchdog, made public in a report published last year, blamed the extent of the fraudulent activity on Moody’s unfettered access to bank systems.
At times, Moody served as a lending officer, bank board member, shareholder, loan committee member and information technology officer, the FDIC’s Office of Inspector General found.
Moody used her position to issue loans in the names of “fictitious borrowers” and unwitting bank customers, depositing some of the proceeds in family members’ bank accounts, according to the FDIC report.
When regulators requested loan information for a regularly-scheduled examination in 2018, Moody stalled, missing the deadline to hand over the documentation by two and a half weeks, while hiding nearly $5 million in fraudulent loan balances, the report says.
Moody had complete control, said Walker, the Texas banking regulator. She could even access the bank’s computer system from her house, he said.
To conceal the fraud, Moody kept fake loans under $150,000, believing regulators wouldn’t examine these transactions, according to the FDIC report. She fabricated documentation that made these loans appear legitimate, it says.
But eventually, the fraud must have become more and more difficult to conceal, Walker said.
“If you look at significant frauds that have occurred over the years, people have managed them to a point,” he said. “Then they just got bigger than what they could handle.”