Brandon Barber's Lawyer, K. Vaughn Knight, Convicted on Eight Counts

A jury in U. S. District Court in Fort Smith on Monday convicted K. Vaughn Knight, the attorney for former northwest Arkansas real estate developer Brandon Barber, on eight counts including bankruptcy fraud and money laundering.

Knight's conviction on five counts of money laundering, one count of conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud, bankruptcy fraud and false statements, ends the criminal cases involving Barber. Knight's trial started on Nov. 4.

Knight, 46, faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the bankruptcy fraud and money laundering charges and 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the money laundering charges.

"This case has always been about fraud," Conner Eldridge, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, said in a news release. "The evidence showed that Vaughn Knight agreed with Brandon Barber to conceal a large sum of money by using his lawyer's trust account and then did not tell the Bankruptcy Court about those funds. This conduct prevented honest, hard-working subcontractors and other creditors from having a chance to recover at least some of the money they were owed."

At the end of July, Barber pleaded guilty to his role in schemes that provided false documents and information about loans and real estate to banks including Legacy National Bank of Springdale and Metropolitan National Bank of Little Rock. On July 31, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and money laundering.

Jeff Whorton pleaded guilty in August to conspiring with Barber and Brandon Rains to inflate the value of real estate transactions in order to get bigger loans from First Federal Bank of Harrison. Rains pleaded guilty on Oct. 17 to a single count of making a fraudulent representation to the FBI.

Another co-defendant, James Van Doren, Barber's business associate, pleaded guilty in August to a single count of money laundering for helping Barber hide money from his creditors in Barber's bankruptcy case.

And David Fisher, a Rogers attorney accused of conspiring with Barber, Rains and Whorton, was acquitted last month at his jury trial.

Neither Barber nor the rest of the felons have been sentenced.