Assets Still Frozen In Fraud Case
Accused of securities fraud by a federal regulator, financial adviser Robert G. Bard and his investment advisory firm, Vision Specialist Group, have been prohibited from further violations of securities laws after a preliminary injunction was granted by a federal court last Tuesday.
U.S. District Court Judge William W. Caldwell, on Aug. 11, approved the preliminary injunction and also ordered the freeze on Bard's and his firm's assets to stay put.
Bard, 43 years old, of Warfordsburg, agreed to the court order without admitting or denying wrongdoing.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed civil charges on July 30 accusing Bard and Vision Specialist Group of securities fraud.
The preliminary injuction negated the need for a hearing scheduled for Aug. 13 when a temporary restraining order that froze the assets of the defendants would have expired. It will remain in effect until further order of the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, Pa.
According to the SEC, Bard squandered hundreds of thousands of dollars of clients' money . in risky investments and borrowing on margin. The regulator further alleges that Bard overstated account values when reporting to clients and created false statements misrepresenting the true value of their accounts.
The SEC also alleges that "Bard forged client authorization forms to transfer funds between accounts to conceal the dissipation of assets."
Most of Bard's clients live in and around Warfordsburg, and many of them, the regulator stated in its July 30 complaint, entrusted Bard and Vision Specialist with their entire life savings. Clients cited in the complaint include retired persons, a local fire company, a widow and a memorial fund for a U.S. Marine who was killed while serving in Iraq.
The SEC is seeking permanent injunctions, disgorgement of "ill-gotten gains" and financial penalties against Bard and Vision Specialist Group.