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Brandon Barber Co-Defendant James Van Doren Set For Plea Change Hearing

2 min read

James Van Doren, a co-defendant in a federal indictment involving former northwest Arkansas developer Brandon Barber, is set for a plea change hearing on Friday.

Van Doren previously pleaded not guilty to seven counts of bankruptcy fraud, money laundering and wire fraud, will appear before U.S. District Judge P.K. Holmes in Fort Smith at 10 a.m. It is unclear to what charge or charges he will plead to during Friday’s hearing. An attempt to reach Van Doren’s attorney Lance Cox was not immediately successful.

Barber pleaded guilty to three counts on July 31. He was facing 27 counts from two different indictments.

Federal prosecutors allege that Van Doren, a New York investment banker and former friend and business associate of Barber, committed a crime by knowingly shielding money from creditors to help Barber pay for personal expenses. Charges against Van Doren included three counts of money laundering and one count each of bankruptcy fraud, conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Van Doren filed a lawsuit against Barber and co-defendant K. Vaughn Knight on July 19, alleging that he was defrauded by the two as part of a real estate deal that ultimately led to Van Doren being “unnecessarily placed under the scrutiny of federal regulators and law enforcement.”

That civil case is still pending in Washington County Circuit Court.

On July 10, Holmes denied Van Doren’s motion to be tried separately from Barber and Knight.

Van Doren and Barber first developed a friendship when growing up in Jonesboro. They later became business associates. Knight was Barber’s bankruptcy attorney.

The case was originally set for trial on Sept. 16. Knight has yet to plea, though he filed a motion through his attorneys on Wednesday seeking a continuance saying there isn’t proper time to prepare for a trial.

Sentencing for Barber and Van Doren would likely be delayed until the trial is complete. Sentencing could also be delayed until the scheduled Oct. 21 trial of Barber co-defendants Jeff Whorton, Brandon Rains and David Fisher. Barber, Whorton, Rains and Fisher were part of a separate indictment involving fraud and money laundering.

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