A New Orleans businessman convicted in a City Hall corruption case is accused of transferring assets to his wife to shield them from a $1 million restitution order.
A civil lawsuit filed Monday by U.S. Attorney Jim Letten's office claims Stanford "Pampy" Barre agreed to transfer roughly $1.4 million worth of property to his wife, Barbara, 10 days after he pleaded guilty in January 2007 to mail fraud, conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges.
In the suit, Letten's office said the federal government is entitled to void the couple's agreement and recover up to $881,511 that Barre owes in restitution.
Barre, who already has paid about $110,000 in restitution, was sentenced to five years in prison for his role in a scheme to skim money from a City Hall contract during the administration of former Mayor Marc Morial, who wasn't charged in the case.
Scott Bickford, a lawyer who has represented Barre, said Barre couldn't know months before his sentencing how much restitution he would owe.
"I don't think his debt was established until he was sentenced," Bickford said. "To intimate somehow that this huge debt obligation was locked in at the time of his plea, I don't think that's accurate."
Barre and his wife co-owned Pampy's Inc., which included several restaurant and concessions businesses. The company also formed a joint venture with another company for concessions at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.
The government's lawsuit says Barre's debts were greater than his assets after property was transferred to his wife last year.
"The transfer of marital, community property ... was made with an intent to hinder, delay, or defraud the United States' collection of maximum restitution from Stanford Barre," the suit says.