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Pa. man found guilty on 21 counts of criminal fraud

Robert G. Bard was previously found civilly liable of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from investors

August 22, 2013

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A investment adviser from Fulton County, Pa., who previously was found liable for pilfering money from clients, including a memorial fund for a Marine killed in Iraq, has been convicted of 21 counts of criminal fraud.

Robert G. Bard, 47, of Warfordsburg, Pa., was convicted of 14 counts of wire fraud, three counts of mail fraud and one count of securities fraud following a seven-day trial that ended Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

A conviction on each of those counts carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison, the release said.

Bard also was convicted of bank fraud, which carries a 30-year maximum penalty, as well as false statements and investor fraud charges that carry up to five years in prison, the release said.

The jury trial was held before U.S. District Judge Sylvia H. Rambo. No sentence date was set, the release said.

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In 2011, Bard was found civilly liable in federal court of bilking investors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, including money taken from the Semper Fi Memorial Fund established in the name of Steven Szwydek, a U.S. Marine from Warfordsburg killed in Iraq in 2005.

Bard was related to Szwydek’s family by marriage, his mother Nancy Szwydek told The Herald-Mail in 2009. She said Bard spoke at their son’s funeral.

Bard was a registered investment adviser and the owner of Vision Specialist Group between 2004 and 2009, the release said.

He had been terminated from his prior employment as a stock broker for forging customer signatures on financial documents and was banned for life by the National Association of Securities Dealers, the release said.

Bard had also declared personal bankruptcy in 2005, the release said.

The jury found that Bard had defrauded clients by misrepresenting the value and makeup of their portfolios and creating phony account statements that inflated the value of their accounts, the release said.

Bard created phony account statements to conceal more than $3 million in client losses between 2006 and 2009, the release said.

In the 2011 civil case, Bard was held liable for a $2.5 million penalty and the disbursement of $450,000 in profits in connection with an action brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the release said.

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