Brandon Barber Released From Jail, Into House Arrest

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Former local developer Brandon Barber was released from jail Monday afternoon (May 13) in Washington County after being locked up for almost a week.

Barber is in New York, under house arrest at the home he shares with fiancee Kristen Foodim, where Barber can only leave for medical necessities and court appearances.

Barber was sent by the Fayetteville federal court to the Washington County Detention Center on Tuesday after the judge found Barber did not have a permanent home in which to serve out his home detention restrictions.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Erin Setser ordered Barber released Monday in an Order Setting Conditions of Release document submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas.

In the document releasing Barber, Setser stipulates that Barber must not violate any laws while out of jail, and he must cooperate in the collection of DNA samples if ordered. He also cannot change residences and must appear in court for his federal trial scheduled to begin June 17 in Fort Smith, according to the document.

Barber left the Washington County Detention Center on Friday for federal court, after his attorney filed a motion seeking Barber’s release from jail. The motion included a request for Barber to carry out his home detention restrictions at his fiancee’s home in New York, attorneys said.

Setser recommended Barber undergo house arrest in New York, and his attorney, Asa Hutchinson III, concede the former developer is a flight risk. Hutchinson would not concede, so Setser ruled late last week that Barber had to remain in jail.

Attorneys for Barber also submitted paperwork in federal court Wednesday to try to get him out of county jail.

Hutchinson submitted documents to the Fayetteville federal court clerk requesting Barber be allowed to carry out his house arrest at his parents’ home in Jonesboro, although the request was later changed to Barber’s residence in New York.

Barber was ordered into Washington County Detention Center Tuesday afternoon in the federal courthouse in Fayetteville.

Barber left the federal courthouse last Tuesday in handcuffs, led away by Washington County Sheriff’s deputies to the county detention center.

Setser ordered the fraud suspect to stay in jail until Hutchinson filed a motion for a permanent location for his house arrest. Barber had been ordered to leave his Manhattan apartment and attend court in Fayetteville this week concerning the stipulations of his release in March after being arrested in New York.

Barber’s fiancée’s ex-husband requested a restraining order against Barber, meaning he is not allowed to be around Foodim’s children. A New York judge Tuesday extended the no contact order, but the restraining order was lifted later in the week.

With the restraining order in place early later week, Setser said she didn’t want Barber going back to the New York apartment he shares with Foodim.

During the hearing last Tuesday, Setser said she wouldn’t approve a location for Barber to live if it wasn’t permanent.

Barber was accused of violating the terms of his release and Setser last week ordered the former developer to remain in house arrest at the Chancellor Hotel in Fayetteville.

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

After the hearing May 6, Asa Hutchinson III said the defense team’s goals at this week’s hearings 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.

Foodim 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 hearings this week 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 June 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 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.