Report filed against justice court candidate

Published 12:04 am Friday, November 3, 2017

NATCHEZ — A business dispute resulted in a civil report being filed against a southern district justice court judge candidate by his former business partner this week.

The candidate, Danny Barber, said his former partner’s claims are false and the timing of the filing is politically motivated. The election is Tuesday.

“We closed the business last September,” Barber said. “Why is he waiting until this moment, a few days before the election?

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“I have not done anything. It was just a business deal that went bad.”

Kevin Wilson on Wednesday filed a civil report with an Adams County Sheriff’s Office deputy about missing money from a business venture Wilson and Barber were partners in — Natchez Auto Body Shop LLC on U.S. 61 North. Wilson said the timing is related to a back and forth with his accountant and his learning by accident a second bank account under the name Natchez Auto Body exists in Barber’s name and holds a large amount of money.

“Like most things in this world, this is motivated by money,” Wilson said. “I was dreading doing this. I put it off and put it off, but it just needed to be done.

“If you look in justice court, you will find that everyone who owes me money, I am going after them.”

Wilson said he has not given money to any candidate, but Wilson did allow justice court judge candidate Jack Blaney to place signs in his yard.

Blaney said he is self-funding his campaign and has not taken money from Wilson or anyone else.

Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten said since Barber is a former deputy the sheriff’s office was referring the investigation to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation. Patten said if the MBI cannot take the case, it would be referred to the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office.

Barber said in September 2014 he invited Wilson to buy out Barber’s other partners in what was then called Natchez Body Shop. Wilson reports he invested $46,500 initially for operating costs of the business. Wilson said he contributed more money to the business over the approximately two years of operation.

Barber said Wilson is shortchanging what he gave initially. Barber said not all of the money was for operating costs, as some was buying the business’s equipment.

Barber said Wilson did not buy the rights to the business name, and that required them to rename the company to Natchez Auto Body Shop. Barber said the name change was the beginning of the end, as State Farm dropped their contract due to a requirement that the business be in operation for three years.

“We were surviving, but it was going downhill,” Barber said.

After 18 months without the State Farm contract, Barber said he spoke to Wilson about getting out. Barber said he liquidated the equipment and gave all the proceeds to Wilson. Barber said the shop closed last September.

Barber said he then walked away from the business with nothing.

Barber said the money in the other account is not anything sinister. Barber said it is an approximately $30,000 check from British Petroleum’s 2010 oil spill settlement claim he plans to disburse to he and his original partners at the end of the year due to advice from his accountant.

Wilson, who also said he never made money in the failed business, said the Natchez Auto Body Shop failure is not as simple as a business hitting a rough patch and going under.

Even if the money in the other account is related to a settlement before Wilson’s time with the business, Wilson said he had been investigating the business transactions before he found out about the second account. Wilson said he would not put an exact dollar figure on what Barber might owe at this time.

“I know for two years he and his son lived off that business, and I never got a dime,” Wilson said. “He has a lot of questions to answer.”