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Arkansan charged in Jan. 6 riot asks judge to extend travel distance order

by Bill Bowden | June 15, 2021 at 7:16 p.m.
Washington County Sheriff booking of Richard Barnett, January 8, 2021. (Special to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

The Gravette man arrested after the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot has asked a federal judge to allow him to travel to a classic-car swap meet in Central Arkansas.

Richard “Bigo” Barnett, 61, is currently allowed to travel up to 50 miles from his residence while he is on home detention awaiting trial.

Petit Jean Mountain, where the car show is being held this week, is 200 miles from Gravette.

During a teleconference court hearing Tuesday in the District of Columbia, Barnett’s attorney, Joseph D. McBride, Esq., of New York City, said Barnett needs to travel to make a living.

In a letter to the court, McBride noted that Barnett was in jail from Jan. 8 to April 27.

“During that time Mr. Barnett was terminated from his career position as a window salesman, which was his primary source of his income,” wrote McBride. “Mr. Barnett’s second job of buying and selling classic cars is now his primary source of income. Consequently, his ability to travel for work is crucial to his ability to pay his bills, provide for his family and fund his legal defense.”

Barnett must travel to inspect, appraise, negotiate and purchase vehicles in person, according to McBride’s letter.

“Because of this, we are respectfully asking that Mr. Barnett’s travel restriction be modified so that pretrial services can grant or deny work related travel requests, and shield the details of said requests from the prying eyes of the public,” wrote McBride.

In Tuesday’s hearing, McBride suggested a travel radius of 200 to 250 miles would be more appropriate than 50 miles.

A radius of 250 miles would allow Barnett to travel to the cities of Little Rock, Kansas City, Tulsa and Springfield, Mo.

“We understand the court’s concern, but a 50-mile radius in rural Arkansas is just not practical …” he told the court. “Mr. Barnett is basically 75 miles from anywhere to start.”

McBride said Barnett’s pretrial services officer in Arkansas supports the proposed modification of Barnett’s home-detention status.

In his letter to the court, McBride said Barnett is asking for permission to spend Friday night in the vicinity of Petit Jean Mountain and return to Gravette on Saturday evening.

The Mid-America Old Time Auto Association swap meet ends Saturday.

The government opposes McBride’s request to loosen the restrictions on Barnett, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Dohrmann told the court.

U.S. District Judge Christopher R. Cooper asked Dorhmann to file a response by Thursday so he could make a decision in time for Barnett to travel on Friday, if he is allowed to do so.

Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for more details about what happened in court.

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