McLean Man Pleads Guilty to Gold Investment Fraud Scheme
ALEXANDRIA, VA—On the third day of trial, after prosecutors had presented 10 witnesses and entered over 200 exhibits into evidence, Philip Barnard, Jr., 54, of McLean, Virginia, pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering for his role in a gold investment fraud scheme involving multiple investors and up to $1 million in investor deposits.
In a statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, Barnard owned and operated various companies that purportedly were in the business of coordinating gold transactions. Barnard claimed to have a global clientele including foreign governments, the world’s richest private investors, foreign private banks, and major purchasers of precious metals. Barnard solicited funds from investors through false and misleading representations regarding the use of funds, the amount of return on the investments, and the risk associated with investment of the funds. He also misrepresented that investors would receive minimum and/or guaranteed profits. For example, Barnard told one victim, “This opportunity involves no risk of losing your investment due to the nature of how we take possession of the bullion we work with ... And, remember, I would never allow you to lose one dime.” Barnard guaranteed short term returns as high as 1,500 percent.
According to court documents, Barnard sent charts, graphs, and certificates related to the purported investment designed to lull investors into a false sense of profitability. Unknown to investors, Barnard spent investment funds on personal expenses including private school tuition, personal vehicles, jewelry, and travel. After the investments failed to yield any profit, Barnard lied to investors about the security of their funds. For example, although he had already spent their funds on personal use, Barnard told one investor, “Your investment is in good hands. All of the assurances that I made to you are real. You can rely on my statements.” When some investors contemplated contacting law enforcement authorities, Barnard coerced them into signing agreements that claimed to immunize him from any civil or criminal liability. Ultimately, investors suffered losses up to $1 million.
Barnard was indicted by a federal grand jury on Feb. 26, 2015. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on the wire fraud count, and a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on each money laundering count. Barnard is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 9, 2015. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Andrew G. McCabe, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; and Colonel Edwin C. Roessler, Jr., Fairfax County Chief of Police, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Uzo Asonye and Christopher Catizone are prosecuting the case.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:15-cr-60.