Brandon Barber Returns for Bond Hearing


Brandon Barber, the former Northwest Arkansas developer indicted on 27 fraud and money-laundering charges, appeared in federal court in Fayetteville on Monday (May 6) for a bond revocation hearing.

The hearing lasted about six hours and resulted in Barber being restricted to house arrest. Barber will be staying at the Chancellor Hotel in Fayetteville under house arrest pending a supplemental hearing, according to officials.

Magistrate Judge Erin Setser said Barber can only leave the Fayetteville hotel to appear in court. A supplemental hearing expected to be held in federal court in Fayetteville this week will determine where Barber will continue his house arrest until his trial next month.

Barber was represented in court Monday by Asa Hutchinson, a Republican candidate for governor, and his son, Asa Hutchinson III.

After the hearing, Asa Hutchinson III said their goals at Monday’s hearing were to put Barber in a “position to maintain his employment ” and also to take care of his family.

“We were unsuccessful to do that and obviously disappointed with the judge’s ruling, but we will obviously honor the ruling move forward and look forward to our day in court,” he said.

Barber lives with his fiancee, Kristen Foodim, in New York City. She is expected to appear in family court Tuesday in New York to decide whether Barber or her two children will live with her. He is not permitted under a prior order to be around her children.

“If tomorrow the New York judge decides not to lift the restraining order and make it permanent, thereby excluding Brandon from being around Kristin’s children, then I believe the magistrate here will order him to be in home incarceration in another residence,” Hutchinson said.

She testified in court in Fayetteville on Monday that she and Barber share an apartment in Manhattan and are paying $4,900 a month in rent. The monthly rent is expected to go up soon to $5,200. She said the two of them have “negative $100″ in a joint checking account, but added she receives $3,000 a month in child support from her former husband and a $500-a-day rate doing freelance marketing.

Barber was at the hearing Monday after being arrested again in late April in New York by FBI agents after failing to alert authorities 48 hours in advance about a business meeting, Hutchinson said.

The hearing was to determine if Barber’s bond would be revoked, since the unplanned meeting violated the terms of his release on bond. If the bond had been revoked, he would have been sent to a federal prison to await his July 17 trial date.

Barber last month had an unplanned brief meeting near his Manhattan residence with the chef at Erminia Ristorante Italiano to discuss business, court records show. Barber works on a commission-only basis for The Hotaling Group, a New York-based insurance firm whose website identifies it as having sports and entertainment clients.

Out on a previous $500,000 bond, Barber had been restricted to home detention except for work, family and religious functions, records show. He wears an ankle bracelet to monitor his whereabouts.

Barber is expected to have a June 17 jury trial date before U.S. District Judge P.K. Holmes in Forth Smith, officials said.

Barber pleaded not guilty April 15 to all fraud counts during a federal court hearing in Fayetteville.

Four others charged in the case also pleaded not guilty: They are K. Vaughn Knight of Fayetteville, James Van Doren of New York, Jeff Whorton of Johnson and Brandon Rains of Springdale.

Barber, 37, was arrested in March in connection with a years-long investigation by federal agencies into fraud allegations.

Prosecutors, the FBI and the IRS allege that Barber declared bankruptcy in 2009 after racking up $200 million in loans, then hid assets from the courts and creditors during the bankruptcy process.

Less than a decade ago, Barber, then in his 20s, founded the Barber Group in Springdale and tackled several high-profile area projects such as the Legacy Building and the Bellafont condominiums in Fayetteville. He even proposed the 15-story Divinity Hotel in Fayetteville in 2006.

Court records show Barber took on massive debt, taking out millions of dollars in loans from local banks. Litigation from the financial institutions ensued, and years later, several court cases by banks and area entities against Barber remain unresolved, according to Washington County Circuit Court records.

In debt and collecting lawsuits, Barber filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2009, but is accused of hiding his assets from creditors. A year later, he was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated for the second time in recent years, police records show. His development company also filed for bankruptcy, and he moved to New York.

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