Bard Found In Contempt Of Court Orders
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) attorneys and lawyers representing Warfordsburg financial advisor Robert Bard agreed on Tuesday to a stipulated order on the SEC’s emergency motion to find Bard in contempt for ignoring two federal court orders prohibiting him from providing financial services to clients.
Bard and his firm, Vision Specialist Group, were charged with securities fraud by the SEC in a civil suit filed July 30, 2009.
In its 2009 complaint, the SEC alleges that Bard and Vision Specialist Group targeted investors in the Warfordsburg area “with promises of high yields and safety of principal, telling clients that they had invested in safe investments such as bonds, certificates of deposit, and money market funds.”
Instead, securities lawyers allege that Bard cheated investors, many of them from southern Fulton County and nearby communities, out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Bard had been ordered to appear before Judge William W. Caldwell Tuesday afternoon in Harrisburg to defend himself against contempt charges filed last month in U.S. District Court by the SEC. Attorneys for Bard and the SEC were able to come to a stipulated order of contempt agreement, avoiding a scheduled 2 p.m hearing before Judge Caldwell.
In its emergency motion to find Bard in contempt, the SEC alleges that Bard violated an order of preliminary injunction issued in August 2009 that prevented him from acting as a financial advisor, prohibited him from controlling clients’ accounts and placed a freeze on the assets of both Bard and and Vision Specialist Group.
The SEC also accuses Bard of defying a January 2010 court order that gave him permission to lawfully earn money to pay for personal and family living expenses, but excluded him from “participating in any incomeearning activities in the financial services sector.”
In other documents filed last month in federal court, the SEC says that Bard “is violating almost every restriction placed on him by the Court ... . “ Among other things, the SEC alleges that Bard was managing clients’ accounts and misrepresenting the value of at least one client’s account.
The violations of the court orders and federal securities laws, securities lawyers said in court documents, came to light during discovery, a pre-trial litigation process during which each party requests relevant information and documents from the other side in an attempt to “discover” pertinent facts.
Tuesday’s stipulated order of contempt requires Bard to provide the SEC “a verified accounting” of financial services clients since Aug. 11, 2009; all funds or assets received since Aug. 11, 2009; and all managed accounts since Aug. 11, 2009. He was also ordered to provide notice that he has been found in contempt of court to each person who is or at any time since Aug. 11, 2009, has been a client of his or Vision Specialist
The SEC’s case against Bard for securities fraud had, at first, been placed on the January 2011 trial list. However, as the various stages of the litigation process have moved forward, the court has modified the schedule of proceedings a number of times, and Bard’s case is now on the August 2011 trial list of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg.