Feds seek $7M in privately made 'Liberty Dollars'
Feds seek $7M in 'Liberty Dollars' that were invented by man to compete with US dollar
April 4, 2011
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Federal prosecutors on Monday tried to take a hoard of silver "Liberty Dollars" worth about $7 million that authorities say was invented by an Indiana man to compete with U.S. currency.
Bernard von NotHaus, 67, was convicted last month in federal court in Statesville on conspiracy and counterfeiting charges for making and selling the currency, which he promoted as inflation-proof competition for the U.S. dollar.
His Charlotte-based lawyer, Aaron Michel, is appealing that verdict. He wrote in a motion filed Thursday that von NotHaus did nothing wrong because he didn't try to pass the Liberty Dollars off as U.S. dollars.
"The prosecutors successfully painted Mr. von NotHaus in a false light and now the U.S. Attorney responsible for the prosecution is painting the case in a false light, saying that it establishes that private voluntary barter currency is illegal," Michel wrote.
The trial was scheduled to resume Monday in Statesville. The case involves more than five tons of Liberty Dollars and precious metals seized from a warehouse, which the government wants to take by forfeiture, according to federal prosecutors and Michel.
Von NotHaus began issuing Liberty Dollars in 1998, as head of the Evansville, Ind.-based National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve and Internal Revenue Code. In 2007, the group's headquarters were raided along with the Sunshine Mint in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, where the coins were made. The case is being tried in Statesville because one of the organization's top officers is based in Asheville, and because an undercover investigator made contact with the group in North Carolina.
Federal prosecutors successfully argued that von NotHaus was, in fact, trying to pass off the silver coins as U.S. currency. Coming in denominations of 5, 10, 20, and 50, the Liberty Dollars also featured a dollar sign, the word "dollar" and the motto "Trust in God," similar to the "In God We Trust" that appears on U.S. coins.
"Attempts to undermine the legitimate currency of this country are simply a unique form of domestic terrorism," U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins said in a statement after von NotHaus was convicted.
Von NotHaus has argued it's not illegal to create currency to privately trade goods and services. He also has said his organization took pains to say the Liberty Dollars shouldn't be called "coins" and shouldn't be presented as government-minted cash. Among other benefits, Michel's motion argues, the Liberty Dollars were a means to help keep currency in local communities by creating networks of merchants and consumers who used the money.
Numerous cities and regions around the country have experimented with local currency, but laws restrict them from resembling U.S. bills or from being passed off as money printed by the federal government.
The concerns raised by von NotHaus and his group are finding resonance among some state lawmakers, too. About a dozen states have legislation that would allow them to produce their own currency backed by gold or silver in the event of hyperinflation striking the U.S. dollar. North and South Carolina are among those states.
That's partly why von NotHaus' group has been followed for years by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that tracks political extremism. Long before the government began its investigation into von NotHaus, the group was raising concerns about the popularity of Liberty Dollars among fringe groups on the far right.
"He's playing on a core idea of the radical right, that evil bankers in the Federal Reserve are ripping you off by controlling the money supply," said Mark Potok, spokesman for the group. "He very much exists in the world of the anti-government patriot movement, whatever he may say. That's who his customers are."
Von NotHaus is currently free on bond. If the conviction against him is upheld, he faces up to 25 years in prison and a fine of $750,000. A sentencing date has not been set yet.
Creator of "Liberty Dollar" Guilty! Facing 20+ Years in Jail: Interview With Heather Lewis
LIBERTY DOLLAR TRIAL NEWS
United States v. Bernard von NotHaus (BvNH) Case # 5:09-CR-00027
LAST UPDATE: March 22, 2011 11:00 am PST
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Thank you all for your patience. Day 5 is complete and Day 6 will follow soon.
By: Heather Lewis
Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that these notes are the best of my recollection at the time they were taken. It is very hard to hear in the court room sometimes. Take them as you will, no guarantee is made of their accuracy because I am not a human typewriter or tape recorder and no recording devices are being allowed in the courtroom.
I consider myself to be a friend of Bernard von NotHaus and I also am a Liberty Dollar Associate, so I am by no means a partial reporter in this case. In my opinion, Liberty Dollar is one of the doors to changing our broken financial system. Liberty Dollar became a threat to the Federal Reserve by competing with them, and the Fed had them taken out of business. That is my opinion. However, I have made every effort to report accurately the proceedings that are going on in the Federal District Court here in Statesville, North Carolina.
For those of you who are completely in the dark about the Liberty Dollar Organization you will have to do your own research, my apologies, but I am flat out just keeping up. Maybe someday when there are no more earthquakes, tidal waves, or nuclear meltdowns, I will have time to organize an article to fill you in on the details but for now this testimony gives a fairly accurate picture of the Liberty Dollar Story.
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