2012-04-19 / Front Page

Final Judgement Sought In Bard Securities Fraud

Defendant makes no payments to SEC
By Lindsay R. Mellott
STAFF WRITER

A month after investment advisor Robert Glenn Bard failed to meet the deadline to pay a $2.5 million civil penalty imposed by a federal court for violating securities laws, the plantiff in the case, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), has moved for entry of final judgement against the defendant and his Warfordsburg-based company, Vision Specialist Group.

In court documents filed last Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, in Harrisburg, the SEC asked Judge William W. Caldwell to grant final judgment against Bard and Vision Specialist Group, incorporating Judge CaldwellĂ­s earlier rulings granting summary judgement to the SEC and ordering the defendants to pay $450,000 in disgorgement for ill-gotten gains, prejudgement interest and a $2.5 million civil penalty that was determined at a hearing on Feb. 2, 2012, and due March 12, 2012.

The total amount Bard owes, including $53,039 in prejudgement interest, comes to $3,003,030 and the SEC has now asked that the amount owed be paid to the Securities and Exchange Commission within seven days of the court entering final judgement, with post-judgement interest due on any deliquent amounts.

The SEC further requested in its motion last week that the final judgment orders the money, accounts and other assests of Bard or Vision Specialist previously frozen by court orders to be liquidated immediately and the proceeds paid to the registry of the court in Scranton, Pa. The SEC’s motion states that “Any such money paid to the court registry will be credited towards the disgorgement amount due by defendants and shall be available to be disbursed at the direction of the Securities and Exchange Commission.”

Court documents state that eight financial institutions were notified about Bard’s court-ordered asset freeze and that they hold only a small fraction of the amount owed by the defendants.

The plantiff’s motion also asks the court to order Bard’s legal counsel to transfer the proceeds from the sale of Bard’s Cayman Islands home currently held by his attorneys, plus any interest earned, to the court. The court had ordered the proceeds to be held in a trust account maintained by Bard’s attorneys on Jan. 11, 2012, after the SEC learned that Bard was selling his Cayman Islands property, which he and his wife owned together, in violation of of the court-ordered asset freeze.

The proceeds of the sale, after repayment of the mortgage, outstanding fees and other costs, are $38,433.86, according to court documents.

Bard’s attorneys had argued at the hearing in February to determine the amount of the civil penalty that only half of the proceeds of the sale could be used to satisfy the judgement against the defendants because his wife was half-owner of the property. The SEC asserts, in court documents, that “ ... the Cayman payments came from the proceeds of Bard’s fraud” and that all of the sale proceeds should be turned over to the court.

It is further noted by the SEC that the Cayman Islands property was not the only time Bard had attempted to shield assets from the commission or the court. In order to avoid prior court orders preventing Bard from managing client accounts and earning income in the financial services industry, he asked that certain payments be made by check to his wife, or to accounts in his wife’s name.

In April of 2011, Bard was found in contempt for ignoring those court orders.

SEC attorney G. Jeffrey Boujoukos said on Monday that the civil judgements against Bard will be satisfied by whatever existing assets the SEC is capable of executing against.

“We’re going to go through the collection process,” Boujoukos said. “We’ll continue to do what we have to do to hold Bard accountable.”

Bard incorporated Vision Specialist Group in December 2004, and the firm was registered in Pennsylvania and West Virginia as an investment advisor.

In May 2009, Vision Specialist Group reported assets under management of approximately $9 million with 140 accounts for 101 to 250 clients in the past fiscal year.

Bard and his firm were charged with securities fraud by the SEC in a civil suit filed July 30, 2009. The SEC said then that Bard had at least $4.4 million in assets under management in 154 accounts at two broker-dealers.

In its civil suit, the SEC alleged 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 say that Bard cheated investors, many of them from southern Fulton County and nearby communities, out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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