NEW ORLEANS—Michael Richard Bark, 57, a resident of Gretna, Louisiana, was sentenced to 5.25 years (63 months) in prison by U.S. District Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon. He pled guilty to a one-count bill of information alleging wire fraud on December 1, 2011, announced U.S. Attorney Jim Letten. Bark was an attorney but has been disbarred by the Louisiana Supreme Court.
According to the bill of information filed on August 17, 2011, Bark, in addition to his law practice, also actively sought investors for trading in “FOREX” futures. The term FOREX refers to the practice of purchasing foreign currencies and attempting to profit from the daily variable values of the foreign currencies versus the value of the U.S. dollar. Beginning sometime during November 2006 and continuing through February 2009, Bark devised a scheme to defraud while marketing FOREX investments by falsely representing to his clients that he invested their money in FOREX investments returning between 12 and 30 percent profit per month, thus increasing the value of their accounts exponentially. Bark e-mailed fraudulent statements showing a profit, when, in reality, there was a loss. Bark, instead of investing the funds as promised, invested client funds in a variety of other business investments that were not authorized and that were without the knowledge of his clients which resulted in a total loss of at least $1,605,942.64 to his clients.
Bark was ordered to pay restitution of $1,605,942.64 to 38 victims. He was also sentenced to three years’ supervised release after he serves his prison sentence. The court waived any fines because of the large amount of restitution.
The case was investigated by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carter K. D. Guice, Jr. of the Financial and Computer Crime Unit.