Barber Claims His Restitution Should Only be $550,000

Barber Claims His Restitution Should Only be $550,000
Federal prosecutors want Barber to pay $16.2 million in restitution, but the former northwest Arkansas real estate developer says he should only have to pay $550,000.

Brandon Barber, the high-profile northwest Arkansas developer, said in court papers Friday that his restitution should only be $550,000 — not the $16.2 million the U.S. Attorney's office has calculated.

In July, Barber pleaded guilty to one count of each conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. He was sentenced on Oct. 28 to 65 months in federal prison, although he was still listed as an inmate of the Washington County jail on Friday.

As part of the plea agreement, Barber was ordered to pay restitution, which the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas said should be $16.2 million. The victims due restitution, according to prosecutors, are Legacy Bank, Enterprise Bank and First Federal Bank.

Barber doesn't dispute that he owes First Federal $550,000, but he said in his filing that the government "has failed to meet its burden of proof" regarding the rest of the amount.

"The Government presents no evidence indicating that Legacy Bank and Enterprise Bank were unaware that the financial statements submitted by [Barber] were inflated," according to the filing by Barber's attorney W. Asa Hutchinson III of Rogers. "The Government has investigated and prosecuted this matter for years and yet no evidence has been offered to show that the banks did not know that the financial statements were inflated."

And even if the banks knew Barber's financial statements were a sham, they still might have let Barber borrow the money, Hutchinson argued.

Hutchinson also pointed out that Legacy Bank has an $8.5 million judgment and Enterprise has a $7.6 million judgment against Barber in civil court tied to Barber's criminal activity. Hutchinson said that if Barber is slapped with the total amount of restitution that the government is seeking, the banks shouldn't be entitled to any additional amount than the civil judgments.

A hearing on the amount is scheduled for Jan. 5 in front of U.S. District Judge P.K. Holmes III.