KC real estate con man appears in court shackled, lawsuit and criminal cases pending

Kansas City’s infamous real estate con man Brent Barber

Real estate fraudster Brent Barber, indicted in 2004 for masterminding a $19.6 million scheme that devastated Kansas City's low-income neighborhoods, was arrested again in May of 2019.
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Real estate fraudster Brent Barber, indicted in 2004 for masterminding a $19.6 million scheme that devastated Kansas City's low-income neighborhoods, was arrested again in May of 2019.

As Brent Barber walked into the courtroom Wednesday, he rubbed his shackled hands together and looked around.

The notorious con artist was back in the federal courthouse in downtown Kansas City, accused of violating his supervised release in a case the FBI once called one of its most significant successes in the fight against mortgage fraud.

He’s been out of prison for several years. Barber was sentenced in 2006 to more than 12 years in prison for masterminding a $19.6 million scheme that devastated Kansas City’s low-income neighborhoods.

His supervised release was set to expire May 24.

But Barber, 54, was instead charged April 26 with tampering with a motor vehicle and two counts of possession of a forging instrument in Cass County, where he has been sued by a car dealer in Lee’s Summit. He also faces a forgery charge in Jackson County.

During a parole revocation hearing in a seventh-floor courtroom, Assistant Federal Defender Anita Burns questioned Barber’s probation officer, Brad Cox, about his interactions with Barber and the violation report he wrote.

Cox said Barber did not report his arrest by Raymore police to him within the 72 hours he was supposed to. Cox requested Barber come to his office, where he was arrested.

At the end of the hearing, Magistrate Judge John T. Maughmer said there was probable cause to believe Barber violated his parole. Dressed in a black-collard shirt with a white long-sleeve underneath, Barber was then taken away.

Barber is infamous in Kansas City for his crimes. Prosecutors in 2006 described the case — involving three indictments, more than 100 federal felonies and about 300 homes — as the biggest mortgage fraud ever prosecuted in western Missouri.

The scheme often ruined the buyers’ credit and left lenders hesitant to offer mortgages to others. A federal prosecutor at the time said Barber “tore through low-income neighborhoods like a hurricane, wreaking financial havoc on individual victims and financial institutions, and leaving behind a devastating trail of residential blight.”

In his latest accusations, Barber was charged with forgery in Jackson County after police said he purchased nearly 80 used vehicles from a City of Kansas City tow lot under the guise of being a dealership agent. He then sold them from an unlicensed lot in Grandview, according to court records.

The 78 vehicles totaled about $34,000 in value.

Barber once told his probation officer he was not selling cars but worked at a dealer fixing them and handling clerical work, Cox said.

In another pending case, Cass County prosecutors in late April accused Barber of possessing a 2017 Jeep Patriot without consent of its owner. The Jeep had been listed as stolen in November 2017 by police in Kansas City, Kansas, according to charging documents.

A search of the Jeep revealed a stolen Kansas license plate, police said. Officers said they also found two fictitious notary stamps.

Interviewed at the Raymore Police Department, Barber said he bought the vehicle in January 2018 and did not know it was stolen, court records show. He said he bought the car without the title from the seller. He also told officers he had no knowledge of the license being stolen, court documents show.

Barber initially said he had no knowledge of the fictitious notary stamps, but he then said he and a coworker discovered them days earlier in a Dodge Durango that automobile dealer EQ Cars and Trucks in Raymore was servicing, according to charging documents.

Eventually, Barber asked for the questioning to stop and invoked his right to an attorney, police said.

Barber was taken to court last year by Eddy’s Mazda of Lee’s Summit after the car dealer sold at least 10 vehicles to Worldwide Equipment, a fictitious name under which the Raymore dealer and Barber conducted business, according to the lawsuit that included claims of fraud, unjust enrichment and breach of contract.

The Lee’s Summit dealer claimed its owed more than $30,000.

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Luke Nozicka covers local crime and federal courts for The Kansas City Star. Before joining The Star, he covered breaking news and courts for The Des Moines Register.