Pa. man found liable for violating securities law

November 14, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH |

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. — A federal judge found a Fulton County, Pa., man liable for violating securities law in a case that alleges he bilked investors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

District Court Judge William W. Caldwell issued a ruling saying Warfordsburg, Pa., financial adviser Robert G. Bard and his firm, Vision Specialist Group LLC, are liable for $450,000 in a civil lawsuit filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“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,” the judge wrote in documents dated Nov. 10.

The Herald-Mail reported previously one of the investments was a memorial fund for a local Marine killed in Iraq.

Caldwell found that a permanent injunction is warranted, as well as Bard yielding $450,000 in fees taken from his clients. The judge said he will hold a hearing regarding the sum of money that will be assessed in a civil penalty.

The hearing for that civil penalty is scheduled for Dec. 13.

“All the evidence suggests that Bard acted deliberately. Indeed, Bard admits that he fabricated and modified documents to reflect holdings that his clients did not, in fact, hold and that he overstated the value of their accounts,” the judge’s opinion states.

Among Bard’s clients whose funds the SEC alleges he mismanaged were retirees, a local volunteer fire company and the Semper Fi Memorial Fund, which was established in 2006 by Warfordsburg resident Nancy Szwydek, whose son, Steven Szwydek, was killed in 2005 while serving with the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq.

In a previous interview, Nancy Szwydek said checks she wrote on behalf of the Semper Fi Memorial Fund began to bounce. She said she notified the FBI in April 2009, and she lost personal retirement savings as well.

In 2009, the Vision Specialist Group LLC’s assets under management were described by the SEC as being between $4.4 million and $6 million.

Staff writer Andrew Schotz contributed to this story.

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