Brandon Barber Pleads Guilty to 3 Counts in Bank Fraud Case

by Chris Bahn and Lance Turner  on Wednesday, Jul. 31, 2013 2:25 pm  

Former northwest Arkansas developer Brandon Barber, left, pleaded guilty to three counts on Wednesday. One co-defendant, Brandon Rains, had also scheduled a change of plea, but that hearing was canceled and Rains' jury trial is again scheduled for Oct. 21.

"We’re dedicated, as this case shows, to investigating and prosecuting fraudulent conduct, those who would swindle people out of money and others who would perpetuate white-collar crimes," he said. "… Financial crimes take a real toll on our society and certainly have in northwest Arkansas, the rest of the district and the state. That’s why we’re focused on them. This case shows we intend to maintain that focus."

Eldridge said Barber's plea was a good deal for the government.

"Mr. Barber has been convicted of three counts and the totality of his conduct will be able to be considered by the court at sentencing," he said. "We’re pleased with that. We’ll continue to move on with the case."

Brandon Rains

A co-defendant in one of Barber's indictments, Brandon Rains, was also scheduled to change his previous not-guilty plea during a 3:30 p.m. hearing Wednesday. But that hearing was canceled on Wednesday, and Rains' jury trial was reset for Oct. 21. In that trial, Barber was to be tried with Rains, Jeff Whorton and David Fisher on charges of bank fraud and money laundering.  

Rains' attorney, Blake Hendrix of Little Rock, said he was not able to make a comment on the canceled plea hearing. He said he now anticipates that his client will go to trial.

Another trial had been set for Barber on Sept. 16 -- the case that alleged money laundering and bankruptcy fraud by Barber and two co-defendants, his former attorney K. Vaughn Knight and a business associate, James Van Doren. 

Van Doren's request to be tried separately was denied, and he has filed a civil lawsuit accusing Barber and Knight of doctoring real estate closing statements to make it appear Van Doren and his company received $688,937 that really went to Barber and Knight. Barber's plea agreement says Van Doren received $152,735 while the remainder was used by Barber.



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