Advocate Report: Questions Surround Bank Statements, Use of Donations in Maegan Barras Lawsuit
Financial documents provided in a local right-to-life lawsuit have raised questions on how donations were spent.
According to a report from The Advocate, Maegan Adkins Barras is currently trying to prove why she should retain legal guardianship of her 38-year-old husband, Joshua Barras, who has been in a "minimally conscious state" since 2018. Joshua suffered brain damage after trying to take his own life while in custody at the Lafayette jail.
While Maegan has regularly taken to social media platforms to ask for donations to cover Joshua's medical treatments, his mother, Kelly Barras, doesn't believe that she has her son's best interest at heart and believes that she is exploiting his situation for financial gain.
The Advocate report alleges that "little money has gone toward his medical expenses" according to bank statements that Maegan Barras submitted to the court. The documents, obtained by The Advocate before they were sealed along with medical records in the lawsuit, do show that Barras has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at casinos.
While it is uncertain if she has other accounts that show how she received and spent money, Maegan Barras spent nearly $300,000 over three years at casinos — on several occasions depositing hundreds of dollars from online payment services on the same dates as she incurred ATM and overdraft fees from her bank for gambling away more money than she had in her accounts.
Barras' attorneys told The Advocate that it's "nobody's business what their client does in her free time" suggesting that the information in the documents obtained by the outlet is fueling hearsay.
Would people's tune change if I said she won $300,000+ at casinos and online gambling? Would it be different if she was considered a professional poker player? It's these types of rumors and conversations that is causing the focus of this matter to shift in the wrong direction.
The clash between Maegan Barras and Joshua's mother has been widely publicized, even gaining national attention after an appearance on "Dr. Phil."
The case even gained the attention of the non-profit that was started by the brother of Terri Schiavo—a woman who made headlines back in 2005 when her husband was granted the right to pull her feeding tube against her parents' wishes.
Upon learning of the case in 2021, the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network connected Kelly Barras to the Life Legal Defense Foundation, which is paying for her attorneys.
According to court documents, Maegan Barras had a rocky past with her husband before his suicide attempt.
They first married in 2015 and would later accuse each other of domestic abuse before filing for divorce the same year. They remarried in 2016. Maegan Barras filed for divorce again in March 2018 but withdrew the request in a November 2018 letter to the court a few days after Joshua Barras attempted suicide.
Barras also gained a large following on social media back in 2019 when she was wrongfully arrested and put in jail after she posted a video of a high school fight on social media. Barras received settlements from the City of Scott as well as the Lafayette Parish School System as a result.
The district attorney's office did not prosecute the case, and Maegan Barras later sued the Scott Police Department and Lafayette Parish School System in federal court for infringing on her rights and causing mental anguish. Maegan Barras received a $70,000 settlement — $50,000 from the city of Scott and $20,000 from the school system — in August 2020 as a result of that lawsuit.
In October 2019, Maegan Barras filed a wrongful death lawsuit that is still pending against the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office where she claims that jail employees "acted against policy" which resulted in her husband's death.
She also sued the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office and jail in October 2019 in federal court over her husband's injuries from his suicide attempt. The lawsuit alleged that jail employees acted against policy when they left Joshua Barras alone for 20 minutes in a bathroom. It also alleged that they knew Joshua Barras had a history of suicidal behavior when he attempted to kill himself inside the jail bathroom. The wrongful death lawsuit is still open and appears to hinge on the outcome of the state court case over who should be Joshua Barras' legal caretaker.
Kelly Barras stepped in through the courts in an attempt to gain guardianship over her son after Maegan took to social media with plans to put Joshua in hospice care and ultimately "end his life."
Kelly Barras said at that time that she wanted to give Joshua Barras the opportunity to receive medical treatment, and if he does not respond within a reasonable timeframe, she will let him die with dignity.
Financial information on how Maegan Barras has been using funds raised for Joshua's medical care has been a topic of conversation for some time now, but a recent push from attorneys representing both Kelly Barras and Joshua Barras resulted in 15th Judicial District Court Judge Valerie Gotch Garrett ordering Maegan Barras to "produce the records" despite her legal team arguing that "it would be an invasion of Maegan Barras' privacy and was irrelevant to the case."
After going through over 200 pages of records that covered Maegan Barras' financials from April 2019 through March 2022, The Advocate reported that the documents painted a "very different picture than the one Maegan Barras has portrayed on social media."
While Barras deposited over $100,000 from platforms that are frequently used for online fundraising, her attorneys argued that "over 90%" of the entries being counted as donations are not actually donations for Joshua's medical care and it will "be revealed eventually."
The Advocate also reported that during that timeframe, Barras also spent "about $295,000 on gambling" as well as an additional estimate of $105,000 that was "withdrawn from ATMs at casinos across south Louisiana."
The remaining $190,000 was spent at an online casino.
Joshua Barras' medical expenses are 100% covered by Medicaid, but the donations that Barras have been asking for across multiple platforms on social media are for "experimental treatments" that aren't covered by their insurance.
Joshua's court-appointed attorney believes that Maegan has been tricking people "locally and globally."
She spent none of this money the right way. She tricked people locally and globally. She could be facing Medicaid fraud, Social Security fraud, problems with the IRS for nonreporting of income.
The attorney also believes that Maegan Barras could also eventually face criminal charges related to unemployment benefits she collected as well as Social Security payments on behalf of her husband.
The guardianship itself will be determined at the trial on June 16. I'm confident we will prevail. The mother of Josh Barras, someone who loves him, will be put in charge of his care.
The Advocate report says that while they are unaware of any other bank accounts that Barras, it "appears that none of the money in either bank account went toward medical treatments."
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