Inside the Brandon Barber Case: Looking at His 5 Co-Defendants

by Chris Bahn  on Monday, Jun. 24, 2013 12:00 am  

It’s a former client, one who once fit the category of a high net worth individual, whose business resulted in Knight facing charges that he laundered money and helped defraud creditors. Knight represented Brandon Barber when he filed for bankruptcy in 2009, and he faces 11 counts: six of money laundering and one each of conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud, bankruptcy fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and making a false statement.

Knight received his law degree from the University of Arkansas in 2001 and passed the bar exam in 2002 after receiving an master’s in taxation law from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He is accused of aiding and abetting Barber when he filed Barber’s bankruptcy petition on July 31, 2009, after Legacy National Bank of Springdale obtained a $9.9 million judgment against Barber.

According to the indictment, Barber, in an effort to conceal assets, opened a pair of bank accounts at First Security Bank and Bank of Arkansas within one year of filing the bankruptcy petition. Money was transferred to and through those accounts, with help from Knight, to “avoid collection and garnishment and conceal Barber’s true financial condition.” Those accounts were not disclosed to the bankruptcy court and, in addition, $1.35 million was deposited into Knight’s client trust account to further conceal money from creditors.

The trust accounts — called IOLTA, Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts — are intended to keep client funds separate from a lawyer’s personal funds and, according to IOLTA.org, the interest they earn is used “without taxing the public, and at no cost to lawyers or their clients … to provide civil legal aid to the poor and support improvements to the justice system.”

Money from Knight’s IOLTA account was allegedly funneled to Barber, who used nearly $1 million to pay living expenses, despite listing on a bankruptcy filing that his income for 2008 was less than $3,500.

Knight also is alleged to have failed to disclose the existence of EIA International LLC, a company owned and used by Barber to sell real estate over a 15-month period prior to his bankruptcy filing. Income generated through EIA International was not disclosed as part of Barber’s income.

Before opening his own firm, Knight worked for Matthews Campbell Rhoads McClure Thompson & Fryauf. Now two lawyers from that firm, David Matthews and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Webber, are defending Knight in his criminal case.

Knight, according to the bio on his firm’s website, has also operated a 17,000-acre farming operation in east Arkansas.

Matthews declined to discuss the case or his client with Arkansas Business. “It would not be appropriate for me to comment on a pending case in the press,” he said.

Knight is free on a $25,000 property bond, using his home for collateral. Every count against him carries the possibility of prison time and a hefty fine.

Brandon Rains

The Metropolitan Council that governs the city-county government of Nashville, Tenn., approved a 19-story, $105 million Westin Hotel project to be built on historic Broadway in 2007, but it didn’t come without a fight. As the Nashville Business Journal described it at the time, the “project’s height is out of sync with the low-rise honky-tonks and Western wear and other independent retail stores that pepper Lower Broad.”

 

 

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