CoinWeek Staff Reports ….
Bernard von NotHaus, creator of the American Liberty Dollar (ALD), was sentenced to three years probation by a federal judge on December 2. This comes almost four years after his March 18, 2011 conviction in federal court on counterfeiting and conspiracy charges.
Von NotHaus was the founder and president of Liberty Services, formerly known as the National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve and the Internal Revenue Code (NORFED), a group the Southern Poverty Law Center says had connections to anti-semitism and the radical right.
Starting in 1998 and ending in July 2009–nearly two years after federal officials raided the group’s headquarters in Evansville, Indiana–NORFED and subsequently Liberty Services exchanged Liberty Dollars for federal reserve notes, with the intent to mix Liberty Dollars into the money supply of the United States to actively compete with U.S. currency. Von NotHaus’ leadership of both Liberty Services and NORFED officially ended on or around September 30, 2008.
The federal investigation of von NotHaus and his organization(s) began in 2005 and concerned the alleged minting of Liberty Dollars, then valued at approximately seven million dollars.
In 2006, the United States Mint, in coordination with the Justice Department, issued a press release warning consumers not to confuse Liberty Dollars with legal tender U.S. currency.
In the 2007 raid, federal officials seized documents and almost two tons of Ron Paul gold Liberty Dollars from Liberty Services’ office in Evansville. Other amounts of gold and silver were also taken.
Von NotHaus’ conviction in 2011 was on charges of conspiracy to publish, possess and sell/utter counterfeit coins in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, mail fraud or aiding and abetting in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341 and 2, and counterfeiting, uttering counterfeit coins, or aiding and abetting of such in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 485, 486 and 2.
’Uttering’ is the act of putting coins or currency into circulation.
Until Tuesday’s decision by U.S. District Judge Richard L. Voorhees in Statesville, North Carolina, von NotHaus faced over 20 years in federal prison. Instead, the 70-year-old von NotHaus was sentenced to three years probation on each of the three counts, to be served concurrently.
He will also be serving six months house arrest.
Update: Article updated to include references.
Oh joy! Just what we need! (sarcasm) One more wingnut, Bernie von NutHouse, walking around free, encouraging the next generation of far right populist anarchist loons, which are already too plentiful in numismatics.
Kurt…Nice to see you back at CoinWeek. Happy Holiday to you.
You are right, after spending millions on a trial and then waiting 3 years to sentance the old guy, the judge should have thrown him in jail for the rest of his life. He was a criminal “counterfeiting” coins. My god, even the prosecutor called the man a “domestic terrorist”. We certainly can’t have anyone whose ideas don’t reflect our own “values” walking about and poisoning the minds of our children. I have never understood why the government doesn’t round up all these crazy and dangerous people and just lock them away. What has happened to this country?
People who have done far less dangerous and damaging things rot today in our penal institutions. The federal prosecutor had a checklist of the elements of establishing the crime of counterfeiting, and she successfully proved every one of the elements in the law. Just because our popular misunderstanding of what constitutes counterfeiting (which is but one type) doesn’t match with our view on the nature of “sound money”, what ever that means, doesn’t mean Von NutHouse is not ALSO a counterfeiter. Governments establish what is and is not money, with legal tender laws, and it is their exclusive role to do so. “Privately made money” is a crime, period. The 1800’s and 1900’s are long gone. The fundamental nature of money has fundamentally changed. You may argue that the change is for the worse, and in several ways, you may be right, but that does not justify any individual’s assuming a role that is exclusively government’s. It leads to prison.
He didn’t “assume” anything. His private currency was NOT a “counterfeit” of anything. His coinage was primarily in Gold and Silver…and in true weights and purities. HIS currency was all actually backed by Gold and Silver,…..unlike our Federal Reserve funny money. His endeavor cast a direct and embarrassing light upon the true nature of our government’s own fiat currency. If anyone wishes to quarrel with this fact, check for yourself how much gold backs each U.S. Dollar currently in circulation!…..(Last I checked, it was about three cents!)……& people still wonder why we have “inflation”??
According to federal law the coins are counterfeits. Leaving aside the perfectly debatable notion that NotHaus’ coins look “nothing” like contemporary or historical U.S. coinage, the point is NotHaus is or was just as likely to know or not know the law as the rest of us.
Famously, ignorance is no defense, although someone in NotHaus’ position, with NotHaus’ beliefs, and doing what NotHaus was doing should probably study up on relevant law. So I’m assuming he knowingly broke the law.
Makes him a hero to some. Not everyone.
Does it really matter how much a penny or nickel costs to make? The government is not a business. It provides a valuable public service in its role as national moneyer–a service far more valuable than its cost.
Heck, even businesses have “loss leaders”.
So how does it matter what money is made of?
Actually it does make a difference.
The difference between the value of money and the cost to produce it – in other words, the economic cost of producing a currency within a given economy or country. If the seigniorage is positive, then the government will make an economic profit; a negative seigniorage will result in an economic loss.
Negative Seigniorage requires the government to make up the ecomonic loss either by increasing taxes or by creating debt by way of borrowing. Sooner or latter somebody has to pay the bill.
How does it make any sense at all to have the ability to make money, and do so at a profit (positive Seignorage) and yet choose to do so at a loss. That is poor management, poor decision making and ultimately, poor governing.
If money is essentially something we hold in our hands then yes, you are right. But money is more than that, and again, government is not a business.
Government operates on a budget, of course. Departments within the government report to their superiors and accounting agencies and clearly do not have free reign. THAT is what you speak of. But the services it provides should not be expected to “make a profit”. If the Mint is legally expected to pay for itself (which it is), then it has to operate according to budgetary constraints, yes.
But that is purely artificial, an external imposition, and not essential to “money”, do you see what I’m saying?
Money is increasingly nothing but ones and zeroes on a bank’s server. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this; it’s just another way to keep track of your balance, as much as notches on a stick or coppers in a pouch. People are afraid of getting ripped off, however.
Everything’s a trade-off. There’s good and there’s bad. But we’ve been through something like this before. Europe didn’t adopt “Arabic” numerals for hundreds of years after they learned the system because people were afraid that merchants and bankers would use their knowledge to swindle and rob the common man.
Can you imagine not using them today?
The gold standard is like using Roman numerals for math. The economy we all benefit from could not function on the level we’re accustomed to if we were to revert back.
I cannot argue against public or global perception of the strength or weakness of a nation’s money, but that perception depends on the psychology of money, more so than the “facts” if only because the public-at-large has wildly different levels of knowledge and ways of thinking about or using money.
And that’s why I question the whole “back to the gold standard” movement. It’s ideological, not practical.
And seignorage is merely an intellectual artifact, not essential to “money” at all.
But to specifically address the argument that loss of seignorage results in higher taxes, then that is an economic inefficiency, not a characteristic of money.
Boy….. could we have a great debate on all of this……. but it might be better off the comments section so we don’t dominate the discussion