Arrest warrant issued for Anita Baker for contempt of court over unpaid bill

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Detroit— Songbird Anita Baker could wind up a jail bird.

A Wayne County Circuit judge has issued an arrest warrant for the eight-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter.

Judge Annette Berry on Wednesday authorized a bench warrant for Baker’s arrest for contempt of court, according to court records.

Daniel Gerow, a St. Clair Shores attorney, was granted the warrant after Baker failed to pay his client, Ray A. Smith Painting & Decorating Inc. of Grosse Pointe Park, $15,351.41 for work on her sprawling home on Lake St. Clair in Grosse Pointe.

“I don’t want to see anyone go to jail, I just want to see my client get paid,” said Gerow. “I think she’s a talented singer, but she needs to take care of her obligations.”

Calls to Baker’s record company were not returned. Gerow said he has not been able to reach Baker or an attorney representing her. He filed a civil lawsuit against Baker on behalf of his client in January 2011. The singer hired the company to do carpentry, painting and plastering work, he said.

The company said she failed to pay, and won a default judgment in April. The amount remains unpaid and if Baker is arrested, she’ll have to pay a bond of the same amount to get out of going to jail, Gerow said.

The warrant is the latest in a string of legal entanglements and financial problems for Baker, known for 1980s soulful pop songs such as “Sweet Love,” “Caught Up In the Rapture” and “Giving You the Best That I Got.”

She grappled with liens for $465,733 in unpaid federal taxes, $15,952 in unpaid state taxes and $3,470 owed to Pella Window & Door, according to county records.

Four years ago, she nearly went to jail when the judge presiding over her 2008 divorce accused her of delaying the proceedings by not signing documents related to the case.

Her ex-husband, Walter Bridgforth Jr., also took Baker to court over his share of her royalties.

Baker filed a defamation suit against preservation buffs who criticized her for flattening a historic Detroit home on Jefferson Avenue to make way for a pancake house in 1991. The red brick house was built on land granted to Alexander Chene in 1703 by the king of France. It housed a jeweler’s family, a fraternity, a speakeasy and Little Harry’s piano bar restaurant that closed in 1989.

Baker was named a Michiganian of the Year by The Detroit News in 2006.

Courtesy of The Detroit News

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