2011-11-17 / Front Page

Bard Ordered To Pay $450,000 In Securities Fraud

SEC obtains permanent injunction
By Lindsay R. Mellott
STAFF WRITER

U.S. District Judge William W. Caldwell last Thursday granted the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) motion for summary judgement requesting the court find in favor of the plantiff before going to trial in the securities fraud case against Warfordsburg financial adviser Robert G. Bard and his company, Vision Specialist Group LLC.

Judge Caldwell ruled that Bard and his company violated federal securities laws, and that a permanent injunction prohibiting the defendants from providing financial services to clients was “warranted.” The judge also ordered the defendants to pay $450,000 in disgorgement, plus prejudgment interest, for profits connected to the securities violations. The SEC had asked for $852,383.

In documents filed with the court order Nov. 10, the judge stated, “Specifically, Bard admits that he made false statements to 33 clients, on 146 occasions, over the course of two and a half years, misrepresenting the value of their accounts by an approximate total of $1,895,200. He also admits falsely indicating that his clients’ accounts had holdings in a type of security that they did not actually hold.”

The judge also found a civil penalty requested by the SEC “appropriate” but ruled that a hearing is required to determine a “reasonable” amount. That hearing has been scheduled for Dec. 13, 2011, at 9:30 a.m. The SEC asked the court to rule in favor of a $4,030,000 civil penalty in its motion for summary judgement filed June 10, 2011.

Bard’s trial had been scheduled for Dec. 5.

The SEC first took action against Bard and Vision Specialist Group in 2009 when security fraud accusations were made against the defendants in a civil lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg. The SEC maintains that Bard’s “repeated and egregioius securities fraud” occurred from at least July 2006 through July 2009.

In that complaint, the SEC allege 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 commu- nities, including retirees, a fire company and a memorial fund for a Warfordsburg Marine killed in Iraq, out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The court ordered an emergency temporary restraining order to keep Bard from perpetrating any further securities fraud, and on Aug. 11, 2009, Judge Caldwell granted a preliminary injunction, which included an asset freeze.

In April 2011, Bard was found in contempt of court for violating the preliminary injunction

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