Liberty Dollar creator and self proclaimed “monetary architect” Bernard Von NotHaus was found guilty in US federal court in North Carolina on Friday of Counterfeiting and Fraud. The Justice Department asserted that Von NotHaus was placing gold, and silver coins, along with precious metals currency into circulation with the purpose of mixing them “into the current money of the United States.”
Von NotHaus developed the Liberty Dollar in 1998. as an “inflation-proof” alternative currency to the U.S. Dollar, which he has claimed has devalued since the Federal Reserve was established in 1913. The silver and gold “coins” were produced by a private mint in Idaho on behalf of the Evansville, Illinois-based Liberty Services, which also issues paper notes which the group says are backed by silver reserves.
In November of 2007, federal officials raided the group’s headquarters, located in a strip mall and seized all documents and the gold and silver that backed up the paper certificates and digital currency being distributed thought Liberty Services website. In addition all coins, bullion and even the dies used to strike the Liberty dollar coins held in the vault at the Sunshine Mint has also been confiscated.
The following is the fill statement issued by the US Attorney’s Office after the guilty verdict was announced:
Bernard von NotHaus, 67, was convicted today by a federal jury of making, possessing and selling his own coins, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Following an eight-day trial and less than two hours of deliberation, von NotHaus, the founder and monetary architect of a currency known as the Liberty Dollar, was found guilty by a jury in Statesville, North Carolina, of making coins resembling and similar to United States coins, of issuing, passing, selling, and possessing Liberty Dollar coins, of issuing and passing Liberty Dollar coins intended for use as current money, and of conspiracy against the United States.
The guilty verdict concluded an investigation which began in 2005 and involved the minting of Liberty Dollar coins with a current value of approximately $7 million. Joining the U.S. Attorney Anne M. Tompkins in making today’s announcement are Edward J. Montooth, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI, Charlotte Division, Russell F. Nelson, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Charlotte Division, and Sheriff Van Duncan of the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office.
According to the evidence introduced during the trial, von NotHaus was the founder of an organization called the National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve and Internal Revenue Code, commonly known as NORFED and also known as Liberty Services. Von NotHaus was the president of NORFED and the Executive Director of Liberty Dollar Services, Inc. until on or about September 30, 2008.
Von NotHaus designed the Liberty Dollar currency in 1998 and the Liberty coins were marked with the “$”, the word dollar, USA, Liberty, Trust in God (instead of In God We Trust) and other features associated with legitimate U.S. coinage. Since 1998, NORFED has been issuing, disseminating, and placing into circulation the Liberty Dollar in all its forms throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. NORFED’s purpose was to mix Liberty Dollars into the current money of the United States. NORFED intended for the Liberty Dollar to be used as current money in order to limit reliance on, and to compete with, United States currency.
In coordination with the Department of Justice, on September 14, 2006, the United States Mint issued a press release and warning to American citizens that the Liberty Dollar was “not legal tender.” The Mint press release and public service announcement stated that the Department of Justice had determined that the use of Liberty Dollars as circulating money was a federal crime.
Article I, section 8, clause 5 of the United States Constitution delegates to Congress the power to coin Money and to regulate the Value thereof. This power was delegated to Congress in order to establish and preserve a uniform standard of value and to insure a singular monetary system for all purchases and debts in the United States, public and private.
Along with the power to coin money, Congress has the concurrent power to restrain the circulation of money which is not issued under its own authority in order to protect and preserve the constitutional currency for the benefit of all citizens of the nation. It is a violation of federal law for individuals, such as von NotHaus, or organizations, such as NORFED to create private coin or currency systems to compete with the official coinage and currency of the United States.
Von NotHaus, who remains free on bond, faces a sentence of up to fifteen years imprisonment on Count Two of the Indictment and a fine of not more than $250,000. Von NotHaus faces a prison sentence of five years and fines of $250,000 on both Counts One and Three. In addition, the United States is seeking the forfeiture of approximately 16,000 pounds of Liberty Dollar coins and precious metals, currently valued at nearly $7 million. The forfeiture trial, which began today before United States District Court Judge Richard Voorhees, will resume on April 4, 2011 in the federal courthouse in Statesville. Judge Voorhees has not yet set a date for the sentencing of von NotHaus.
“Attempts to undermine the legitimate currency of this country are simply a unique form of domestic terrorism,” US Attorney Tompkins said in announcing the verdict. “While these forms of anti-government activities do not involve violence, they are every bit as insidious and represent a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country,” she added. “We are determined to meet these threats through infiltration, disruption and dismantling of organizations which seek to challenge the legitimacy of our democratic form of government.”
The case was investigated by the FBI, Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department and the U.S. Secret Service, in cooperation with and invaluable assistance of the United States Mint. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jill Westmoreland Rose and Craig D. Randall and the forfeiture trial is being prosecuted by AUSAs Tom Ascik and Ben Bain Creed.
Are “Honest Money” Supporters Terrorists?
by Walt Thiessen commented on this in the Nolan Chart website:
“Tompkins issued a statement after the trial that defies reason and sanity and that demonstrates beyond doubt that the U.S. government’s greatest enemy, in the government’s view, are the same people the government claims to protect and serve. Tompkins said, “Attempts to undermine the legitimate currency of this country are simply a unique form of domestic terrorism. While these forms of anti-government activities do not involve violence, they are every bit as insidious and represent a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country,” In other words, from her viewpoint, the real question of the trial wasn’t whether the Norfed coins were intended to be counterfeits of the U.S. dollar. The real question, in her view, was whether those who advocate the use of gold and silver as money should be considered patriots or terrorists. In her view, honest people who want honest money that has honest value are terrorists.”
The New York SUN has an interesting editorial on the court case and said in part:
“A unique form of domestic terrorism” is the way the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, Anne M. Tompkins, is describing attempts “to undermine the legitimate currency of this country.” The Justice Department press release quotes her as saying: “While these forms of anti-government activities do not involve violence, they are every bit as insidious and represent a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country.” Such language strikes us as hyperbolic. It may be that the monetary authorities in America fear that their own currency will be exposed as unsound. The monetary terror for the rest of Americans is the danger that there will be a further collapse in the value of their dollars or, conversely, a deflation that will make it even harder, or impossible, to pay back their debts.
The Founders of America understood all this. No doubt they wanted a national coinage. The Constitution they wrote forbids the states from making legal tender out of anything but gold or silver coins, and it is to the Congress that the Constitution gives the power to coin money and regulate its value. But they promptly defined a dollar as 371 ¼ grains of silver, which was the same as in a coin called a Spanish Milled Dollar, or the free market equivalent in gold. The record left by the Founders is replete with expressions of horror at paper money. They required our government officials to enforce the laws Congress has passed until a court tells them otherwise. But they would have understood the instinct of a man like von NotHaus to seek protection from a debasement that the Founders feared was, in respect of paper money, inevitable.”
What a strange and hypocritical world we live in.