UPDATE: Brandon Barber Arrested; Nevada Seeks Extradition for Hot Checks

by Worth Sparkman  on Tuesday, Jun. 22, 2010 1:49 pm  

Mugshot of bankrupt northwest Arkansas developer Brandon Barber from the Washington County Sheriff's Office website

The Clark County, Nev., District Attorney's office is seeking to extradite Brandon Barber, saying the former Fayetteville developer wrote hot checks valued at $52,500 to cover a marker at a Las Vegas casino.

Barber's lawyer has responded with an emergency motion to quash the criminal summons in U.S. Bankruptcy Court under Barber's Chapter 7 petition, which was filed in July of 2009.

The checks were written to the Venetian Casino in 2007. The warrant for Barber's arrest was issued more than a year ago.

Barber, 34, was booked in to Washington County Detention Center late Monday night, though Bernie Zadrowski, chief deputy district attorney of the check fraud unit in Las Vegas, said Barber was detained as early as 9 a.m.

Barber was stopped at the intersection of College Avenue and Lafayette Street Monday morning by Fayetteville Police for a traffic violation and taken into custody. He was issued a citation for vilation of the Arkansas Seat Belt Law. A deputy at the Washington County Sheriff's Office said Barber had not been released as of late Tuesday morning.

Zadrowski said his office is actively seeking to have Barber extradited and intends to prosecute him for writing bad checks, a violation of Nevada law.

In 2008, Barber signed up for a diversion program with the district attorney's Bad Check Unit that would have allowed him to make restitution to the casino and avoid criminal charges. But Zadrowski said Barber failed to fulfill that obligation.

"It's our intent to prosecute Barber on Nevada criminal law regardless of whether he pays back the money or not," he said.

Barber's lawyer, Vaughn Knight of Fayetteville, filed an emergency motion on Monday in an effort to quash the warrant, stay the criminal charges and order Barber's release from jail. The motion essentially claims that the Venetian is using the district attorney's office as a private debt collector.

"[The casino is] using the threat of criminal prosecution to collect a civil debt," Knight told ArkansasBusiness.com. "That's a big no-no in Arkansas."

The current total debt is $48,075, Knight said.

Knight said he has been in contact with the debt collections office of the Venetian and that an e-mail sent during the noon hour Tuesday indicated the casino might be willing to negotiate a settlement. But the Venetian did not discuss the terms with Knight. Instead, the casino forwarded them to Zadrowski at the district attorney's office. Knight and Barber will have to wait for contact to see if they can meet the terms.

If a settlement is not reached, a hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court is scheduled with Judge Ben Barry on Thursday morning to determine if the criminal charges will be quashed.

Legacy of Trouble

Barber was part of the Barber Group, whose premier development and only completed large-scale project was The Legacy Building in Fayetteville. Legacy National Bank foreclosed on the building in 2008.

Now all four of the original guarantors on the building's $16.7 million mortgage -- Barber and his estranged wife, Keri; and Seth K. Kaffka and his ex-wife, Laura P. Chambers -- have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, three of them within a week of each other in May 2009.

Brandon and Keri Barber's divorce was working its way through court last fall while the couple worked on custody and financial issues. But Brandon Barber's bankruptcy proceeding made matters more complex.

Keri Barber and Laura Chambers are sisters and daughters of Chambers Bancshares Inc. Chairman John Ed Chambers III. Brandon Barber and Seth Kaffka are high school buddies from Jonesboro. At least two of the four have resorted to paying lawyers with jewelry.

Brandon Barber was the last to file his personal bankruptcy, on July 31. He claimed nearly $48 million in liabilities.

Barber is embroiled in a lawsuit with Legacy National Bank of Springdale over the foreclosure of the Legacy Building in Fayetteville and his company Lynnkohn LCC recently declared bankruptcy

 

 

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