mulberrybags bullion seized in CdA focus of federal action
Federal prosecutors go to court in North Carolina on Monday in an attempt to obtain government ownership of an estimated $7 million in “Liberty Dollars” and silver bullion seized as contraband at a private mint in Coeur d’Alene. government and manufacturing and selling counterfeit coins. Mint and Federal Reserve. attorney who brought the case claims von NotHaus’ activities amounted to a form of domestic terrorism.
But his defense attorney called that poppycock and blasted the Obama administration for bringing the case. Attorney Aaron Michel said von NotHaus did nothing illegal and promised to appeal the jury’s guilty verdicts and oppose the asset forfeiture.
The owners of Sunshine Minting Co. and the private mint in Coeur d’Alene were not charged criminally, nor are they part of the forfeiture action. Secret Service into his nationwide Liberty Dollar operation.
During that time, von NotHaus went from promoting private coinage to promoting marijuana as a religious drug. He started the “Free Marijuana Church” in Honolulu, giving away joints and calling himself a “high priest” who had used pot for 40 years.
In 1998, while living in Hawaii, von NotHaus founded NORFED (the National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve Act and Internal Revenue Code) and began printing his own currency and minting coins. coinage. Postal Service, von NotHaus boasted a decade ago.
Quickly, von NotHaus and NORFED became icons in anti tax and radical sovereign citizen movements throughout the United States.
Using the Internet and media outlets targeting anti government ranks, von NotHaus and his sales team also sold Liberty Dollars at redemption centers in nearly every state.
“We never refer to the American Liberty as a coin,” von NotHaus told The Spokesman Review in 1999. “The word ‘coin’ is a government controlled term. This is currency that is free from government control.”
In 2004, von NotHaus sold his coins and anti Federal Reserve philosophy at the anti government We the People organization’s first convention. The following year, the FBI and Secret Service opened an investigation of von NotHaus and his operation. Mint issued a statement warning that the NORFED operation was violating federal law.
The Liberty Dollars in $1, $5, $10, $20 and $50 denominations were manufactured under a contract von NotHaus had with Sunshine Minting. His NORFED paper currency, printed elsewhere, was issued with the promise that it was backed by silver bullion in a vault at the Coeur d’Alene mint.
In 2007, FBI agents served federal search warrants at the private mint, located at 750 W. Canfield Ave. in north Coeur d’Alene, and at NORFED’s headquarters in Evansville, Ind., where von NotHaus had moved.
At the Coeur d’Alene mint, federal agents hauled away an estimated 7 tons of Liberty Dollar coins, silver bullion and coinage scraps, along with dies, molds and cast used in the minting operation.
The seizure included 2 tons of freshly minted “Ron Paul” dollars, supporting the candidacy of the Republican congressman from Texas who unsuccessfully sought the 2008 GOP nomination for president.
Search warrants also were served at two Coeur d’Alene accounting firms involved in what a jury has now determined to be a counterfeiting operation.
The criminal indictment brought against von NotHaus only involved coins he manufactured, not the companion paper currency.
Included on the forfeiture list are 8 tons of precious metals, including 168,599 silver Liberty Dollars in various denominations, an additional 1,000 pounds of silver bullion and 3,039 pounds of copper coins.
Initially, the value of silver in the Liberty Dollars was less than their face value, and von NotHaus eagerly took Federal Reserve notes for their purchase. Over the past years, the value of silver has risen from $20 to about $35 an ounce, so the government seized contraband now has a higher value.
With the Liberty Dollars now viewed as contraband by the federal government, their numismatic value to some coin collectors is reportedly skyrocketing.
“They’re sort of treating these Liberty Dollars like they were cocaine you know, illegal,” Michel said. “That’s certain to drive the price up.”
No one is certain how many Liberty Dollars remain in circulation or in the hands of collectors, but it’s believed to be more than the $20 million estimate from a decade ago.