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Eight Years After Seizure, Feds to Return Liberty Dollars to Owners


CoinWeek Staff Reports….

Millions of dollars worth of property seized in 2007 to be returned at some point in the near future

On August 14, 2015, Acting United States Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose filed a document with the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Statesville Division, calling for the return of millions of dollars worth of bullion and other property seized in connection with the federal government’s criminal probe into the business practices of Liberty Coin creator Bernard von NotHaus.

In total, Rose’s filing opens the door for the return millions of dollars worth of silver, gold, and copper bullion to 265 petitioners, whose petitions to the government “are based on claims for forfeited property, that is, silver, copper, and gold, evidenced by warehouse receipts and electronic Liberty Dollars (ELD’s), and unfulfilled but paid-for orders for forfeited property such as Ron Paul dollars, Chiropractic and Hawaii Dala coins, and other coins that are not contraband per se.”

Still undetermined is the status of 27 petitioners’ claims. The federal government seeks to resolve all outstanding issues surrounding the forfeiture before releasing the property.

In addition, funds seized from Elavon, Inc., Liberty Services’ credit card processor, will also be returned as the government states that the firm satisfied Section 853(n)(6)(A) and has a secured interest in the funds that were forfeited.

U.S. Government Unwilling to Return Everything

In the filing, the United States seeks to deny motions from seven individuals. In some of these cases, the government believes the petitioners to be seeking contraband; in others, the U.S. Government seeks to deny the motion because the submitted documentation is fraudulent.

According to federal law, Liberty dollars are counterfeits, and therefore contraband.

What Are Liberty Dollars and Why Were They Seized?

Liberty dollars were a bullion-based currency alternative manufactured and marketed by Bernard von NotHaus from 1998 through July 2009. Liberty dollars were either struck in gold or silver or backed by precious metals. The physical items were minted by Sunshine Metals of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Bernard von NotHaus was the creator of the coin as well as 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, or NORFED.

The scheme drew the ire of federal authorities, leading to the opening of a federal criminal investigation against von NotHaus and his organization, starting in 2005. The government believed that the goal of von NotHaus’s scheme was to undermine the monetary system of the United States.

At the time, it was believed that the value of Liberty dollars in “circulation” equaled approximately seven million dollars.

In 2006, the United States Mint, in coordination with the Department of Justice, issued a joint-press release warning consumers not to confuse the silver bullion medallions with legal tender United States currency.

Federal authorities intensified their crackdown on von NotHaus in 2007, raiding his offices in Evansville, Indiana and seizing almost two tons of Ron Paul gold Liberty dollars. Other amounts of gold and silver were also seized.

In 2011, von NotHaus was convicted on charges of conspiracy to publish, process 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.

Despite the fact that von NotHaus faced over 20 years in federal prison for his crimes, U.S. District Judge Richard L. Voorhees handed the 70-year old a sentence of three years probation on each of the three counts, to be served concurrently, and six months house arrest.

Von Nothaus’ probation period will end in December 2017.

Coinweek is the top independent online media source for rare coin and currency news, with analysis and information contributed by leading experts across the numismatic spectrum.

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