Feds seek $7M in privately made ‘Liberty Dollars’

Posted: April 4, 2011 in US News

Tom Breen
Associated Press
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.

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