U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 21160 / July 30, 2009
SEC v. Robert Glenn Bard and Vision Specialist Group LLC, Case No. 1:09 CV 1473 (M.D. Pa.)
SEC HALTS ONGOING FRAUD CONDUCTED BY INVESTMENT ADVISER IN CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA
The Securities and Exchange Commission ("Commission") today announced the filing of an emergency action in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania against Robert Glenn Bard ("Bard"), of Warfordsburg, Pennsylvania and his firm, Vision Specialist Group LLC ("Vision Specialist"), an investment adviser registered with Pennsylvania and West Virginia, for conducting an ongoing fraud. The Commission alleges that from at least 2005 to the present, Bard and Vision Specialist have targeted investors in and around the small rural community of Warfordsburg with promises of high yields and safety of principal, telling clients that they had invested in safe investments such as bonds, certificates of deposit, and money market funds. In reality, Bard squandered hundreds of thousands of dollars or more of client funds by making risky (and losing) investments in penny stocks and other securities and borrowing on margin.
The Commission's Complaint further alleges that Bard, through Vision Specialist, perpetrated his scheme by materially misrepresenting and failing to fully disclose the types of investments he made for clients and the performance of clients' accounts. He created false statements misrepresenting the true value of client accounts and used Vision Specialist's operating account to cover client withdrawals and pay margin calls so that clients believed their accounts had funds that they did not have. In addition, for at least one client, Bard and Vision Specialist charged fees although Bard represented that he would not. Furthermore, Bard forged client authorization forms to transfer funds between accounts to conceal the dissipation of assets. Bard has marketed himself as a deeply religious man and has benefitted from his and his family's reputation in this small rural community. Vision Specialist currently has at least $4.4 million in advisory client assets under management in over 150 accounts.
As a result of the conduct described in the Complaint, the Commission alleges that Bard and Vision Specialist violated Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and Sections 206(1) and (2) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. The Complaint seeks permanent injunctions, disgorgement together with prejudgment interest, and civil penalties from Bard and Vision Specialist.
Acting on the Commission's request, the Court today issued a temporary restraining order which freezes Bard and Vision Specialist's assets, precludes them from exercising any authority over client accounts and imposes other emergency relief.
The Commission's investigation is continuing.
The Commission acknowledges the assistance of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority ("FINRA"), the Pennsylvania Securities Commission, the United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in this matter.