The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that an indictment charging Robert G. Bard, of Warfordsburg, Fulton County, Pennsylvania, was unsealed today following his arrest.
Bard was indicted by the federal grand jury in Harrisburg, on Wednesday, in a 21-count Indictment charging one count of securities fraud, 14 counts of wire fraud, three counts of mail fraud, one count of bank fraud, one count of investment advisor fraud, and one count of making false statements to the FBI.
Bard was arrested today and before a federal magistrate judge in Harrisburg for his initial appearance in court. Bard faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment on the securities fraud charge, up to 20 years’ imprisonment on the wire and mail fraud charges, up to 30 years’ imprisonment on the bank fraud charge, and up to five years’ imprisonment on the investment advisor fraud and false statements charge, as well as substantial fines and penalties if convicted.
According to U.S. Attorney Peter J. Smith, Bard allegedly operated Vision Specialist Group (VSG), a registered investment advisor in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, between December 2004 and August 2009. On July 30, 2009, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a civil complaint against Bard and VSG, and the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania issued a preliminary injunction against Bard and VSG on August 11, 2009.
In November 2011, the U.S. District Court determined that Bard and VSG violated securities laws and issued a permanent injunction. In February 2012, the court determined that Bard was liable for a civil penalty of $2.5 million, as well as disgorgement of $450,000 in profits that resulted from his fraud.
The indictment alleges that Bard, through VSG, defrauded at least 43 investors of over $3 million by materially misrepresenting and failing to fully disclose the types of investments he made for them and fabricating the performance of their accounts. Bard allegedly created false account statements to conceal millions of dollars in losses his clients sustained as a result of risky and speculative investments he made in penny stocks and other volatile securities.
Bard also allegedly failed to advise his clients that he was terminated from his prior employment as a stock broker for forging customer signatures or that he filed for bankruptcy in July 2005. Rather, he allegedly told clients that he was a deeply religious man who had 18 years of financial success and that they could trust him with their life savings.
The case was investigated by the FBI and is assigned to Senior Litigation Counsel Bruce Brandler for prosecution.
An indictment or information is not evidence of guilt but simply a description of the charge made by the grand jury and/or United States Attorney against a defendant. A charged defendant is presumed innocent until a jury returns a unanimous finding that the United States has proven the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt or until the defendant has pled guilty to the charges.