Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bond Firm Partner Enters Guilty Plea

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bond Firm Partner Enters Guilty Plea

Article excerpt

One of the witnesses in the federal prosecution of city Comptroller Virvus Jones is expected to be Joseph N. Barnes, a bond lawyer whose firms have given Jones $24,000 in campaign contributions.

Barnes' firms have won several major contracts from the city of St. Louis.

Barnes pleaded guilty in New York on June 2 to charges of failing to file income tax returns for three years.

In a hearing here Wednesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney James G. Martin said Barnes would testify in the government's case against Jones.

A native of St. Louis, Barnes is a partner with Barnes, McGhee, Segue & Harper, a black-owned firm that a trade publication ranks third in the nation among bond counselors for the first quarter of this year.

That firm or its predecessor, Barnes & Darby, acted as bond counselor on such projects here as the airport expansion, Civil Courts renovation and convention center expansion.

Barnes has one remaining city contract - for $12,000 - relating to bonds issued in September by the city's Water Division, according to Lennita Le'Noir, Jones' chief of staff.

The fees for his other city contracts were unavailable Wednesday.

His firms have been among Jones' leading campaign contributors. They gave $3,000 in 1990, $10,000 in 1992, $10,000 in 1993 and $1,000 last year.

Barnes was a leading political fund-raiser for former New York Mayor David N. Dinkins.

Following his guilty plea, New York City officials announced that they would reconsider the application of Barnes' firm to be the city's bond counsel.

Le'Noir said St. Louis officials had no concerns about Barnes' dealings with the city. His firm's current contract would not be reviewed.

"His personal life is not one of the things we take into consideration," she said. "If and when we would consider doing business with Mr. Barnes' firm again, it would be based on its professional qualifications alone."

Barnes, 44, faces fines of up to $300,000 and a prison term of eight to 14 months. …

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