2012-05-31 / Front Page

SEC Obtains Final Judgement Against Robert Bard

Ordered to pay $3,003,039
By Lindsay R. Mellott

A U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania has entered a final judgement and order in the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) securities fraud case against Warfordsburg financial advisor Robert Bard and his firm, Vision Specialist Group.

Judge William W. Caldwell issued the final judgement on May 17, ruling in favor of the SEC and against the defendants. The judgement orders the defendants permanently restrained and enjoined from violating, directly or indirectly, Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act of 1934, Exchange Act Rule 10b-5 and sections 206 (1) and 206 (2) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. And it orders Bard and Vision Specilist Group liable for disgorgement of ill-gotten gains of $450,000, a $2.5 million civil penalty and pre-judgement interest of $53,039., a total of $3,003,039, due within seven days of the order’s entry.

According to court documents, Bard was also ordered to transfer to the court the proceeds from the sale of a home in the Cayman Islands owned by him and his wife, plus any interest earned. That money, which has been held by Bard’s attorneys since January, when the SEC learned that Bard was selling the property in violation of a court-ordered asset freeze, is to be credited toward the disgorgement amount due from the defendants.

Judge Caldwell noted in the order that “Bard’s co-mingling of his ill-gotten gains in the property partially owned by his wife cannot shield those funds from disgorgement.”

Bard’s attorneys had argued at a hearing in February to determine the amount of the defendants’ civil penalty that only half of the proceeds of the sale could be used to satisfy the judgement against Bard because his wife was half-owner of the property.

The SEC asserted, however, 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.

The final judgement also ordered that all persons or entities holding any funds, accounts or other assets of the defendants that have been frozen by the court to “immediately liquidate such assets” and pay the proceeds to the court. The money is to be credited toward the disgorgement amount due from Bard and Vision Specialist Group.

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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