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Adviser accused of fraud spoke at Marine's funeral

August 05, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

Pa. financial adviser accused of bilking investors

WARFORDSBURG, Pa. -- A Warfordsburg, Pa., woman said the financial adviser accused of pilfering almost $500,000 of her family's savings spoke at her son's funeral three years ago after he was killed in Iraq.

Nancy Szwydek said she and her husband, Mike, trusted Robert G. Bard, a financial adviser and owner of Vision Specialist Group LLC in Warfordsburg, to invest their money.

"We had no reason to doubt him," Nancy Szwydek said of Bard, who is related to the Szwydeks through marriage. "Our money is gone."

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On July 30, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was granted an injunction that freezes Bard's assets and prevents him from serving as a financial adviser. That injunction was extended Wednesday in federal court.

Szwydek said her family lost money from several accounts that were managed by Bard, including the Semper Fi Memorial Fund established in honor of her son.

Szwydek created the fund in 2006, a year after her son, Steven Szwydek, was killed while serving with the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq. The fund was set up to teach high school students about the price of freedom by taking them on field trips to places like Arlington National Cemetery.

"(Bard) was someone who was very close to us," Szwydek said. "He was very compassionate. He spoke at our son's funeral."

In addition to the Semper Fi Memorial Fund, Bard managed the Szwydeks' retirement fund of more than $400,000, according to court documents.

Szwydek said she notified the FBI in April after checks that she wrote on behalf of the Semper Fi Memorial Fund began to bounce.

The SEC became involved shortly thereafter.

Szwydek, 53, said she had hoped to retire in 10 years.

"That's not going to happen now," Szwydek said. "Justice needs to be served. (Bard) needs to be stopped."

Bard is scheduled to appear for a hearing Aug. 13 in federal court.

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