As you know, the disgraced northwest Arkansas real estate developer Brandon Barber wants to be sentenced to five years or less in federal prison instead of the nearly 20 years that federal prosecutors are pushing for.
That question will be settled at Barber’s sentencing hearing scheduled for Oct. 28 in U.S. District Court in Fort Smith in front of U.S. District Judge P. K. Holmes III.
In the meantime, Barber’s attorney, Asa Hutchinson III of Rogers, has filed a 51-page document outlining why Barber should get the lighter sentence.
Included in the filing are supportive statements from friends.
“Brandon, was raised in this church, … [and] was active in Bible classes, youth activities, and service projects,” wrote Dr. Jimmy Adcox, senior minister at Southwest Church of Christ in Jonesboro.
Even at Jonesboro High School, Barber was “well liked and involved in many social areas but still always had time for the less fortunate kids,” Tish Allison said.
After graduating from high school in 1994, Barber went to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He left school to start his career, but eventually received his degree in 2010 in, of all things, journalism. He worked on a master’s degree in business from Hofstra University in New York but didn’t complete it.
And if the economy hadn’t crashed a few years back, a different story might have been written about Barber, according to supporter Richard Hudson.
“Had the national recession not occurred, I believe Brandon would today be a highly successful and well-respected business leader in Northwest Arkansas,” Hudson wrote.
In his brief, Hutchinson also touched on Barber’s generous side.
Mari See Taylor, the founder, publisher and editor-in-chief of Celebrate Arkansas, wrote a letter saying Barber’s “success, his personal involvement in many charities made a big difference for many less fortunate in our region. I personally saw Mr. Barber donate thousands and thousands of dollars to multiple organizations throughout our state.”
He also received a letter from his former mother-in-law, Janie Chambers, that said Barber is a “devoted and loving father to my grandchildren.”
(If there was a letter of support from Barber’s ex-father-in-law, John Ed Chambers III, chairman of Chambers Bancshares of Danville, Hutchinson didn’t cite it in his filing.)
“A question that Brandon Barber will ask himself for the rest of his life is how could he lose focus on his values and faith, and ultimately fail in his business that he had worked so hard to build,” Hutchinson wrote.
“The judicial answer is that he cut corners and engaged in fraud to get loans to keep his businesses alive. The human answer is that Brandon has many positive character traits but he is a flawed person just like every human being.”