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After ‘Liberty Dollars’ Creator Convicted, Feds Seek Millions

By Bill Morlin on March 25, 2011 - 2:15 pm, Posted in Extremist Commerce, Extremist Crime, Patriot Groups

The U.S. government wants ownership of $7 million worth of coins manufactured and sold by Bernard von NotHaus, a 67-year-old antigovernment icon who became a “high priest” in his own marijuana-smoking church.

A federal jury in Statesville, N.C., decided on March 18 that the “Liberty Dollars” and other silver, gold and copper coins manufactured in North Idaho and sold throughout the United States by von NotHaus and his sales team violated federal laws. Von NotHaus, the founder of the National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve Act (NORFED), was convicted on charges of conspiracy and two counterfeiting-related charges.

No sentencing date has been set for von NotHaus, who could get up to 15 years in prison. Three other co-defendants are still awaiting a separate trial.

The Liberty Dollars are still a hit with some coin collectors without a political or philosophical agenda. But most buyers, it appears, came from the ranks of anti-tax or radical “sovereign citizen” movements. The common denominator: challenging the authority of the federal government to tax and regulate, along with the notion that the Federal Reserve is controlled by private Jewish bankers.

Never bashful, von NotHaus testified in his own defense, telling the jury he had done nothing illegal and had every right as a U.S. citizen to mint and sell his own coins.  He once said he wanted his private coin-producing operation to be to the Federal Reserve what FedEx became to the U.S. Postal Service.

Although given little attention by the media, the case appears to be the first time the U.S. government has brought a successful criminal prosecution against someone viewed by federal authorities as a direct threat and competitor to the U.S. Mint and the Federal Reserve Bank.

The NORFED operation also printed its own paper currency — supposedly backed by silver deposits in a vault — but that aspect of the operation was not included in a superseding indictment brought last November by a grand jury in North Carolina.

The charges came after a 5-year FBI investigation that included raids at a private mint in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and NORFED’s headquarters in Evansville, Ind., as well as undercover purchases of Liberty Dollars in North Carolina.

Promoted on the Internet, the NORFED sites – even cached versions – have disappeared because of a court order.

As various government agencies began investigating the legality of his Liberty Dollar operation, von NotHaus opened the Free Marijuana Church of Honolulu, giving away pot and calling himself a “high priest” who had proudly used it for 40 years.

At the time of raids, the private mint in Idaho was making “Tea Party” and “Ron Paul” dollars, which were part of the eight tons of booty seized by FBI agents, court documents show.

Now, in a second phase of the criminal proceeding, federal prosecutors will go back to court in Statesville on April 4 to seek forfeiture of the coins and precious metals seized in Coeur d’Alene and Evansville in 2007.

Von NotHaus, who remains free on bond, and his attorney, Aaron E. Michel of Charlotte, N.C., are prepared to fight the government’s attempt to take ownership of the assets at a forfeiture hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Richard Voorhees.

“We don’t think that there’s a crime that’s been committed,” Michel said when asked for comment.  “We will appeal and challenge the jury verdict.”

The federal judge already has denied an oral motion for a new trial. He has given no indication he will postpone the forfeiture hearing.

Court documents show federal prosecutors are seeking forfeiture of  “all property” used in the minting operation, including minting dies, molds and casts seized from the Sunshine Minting, a private business in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Also included on the forfeiture list are eight tons of precious metals, including 168,599 silver Liberty Dollars which sold for $50 or more apiece, an additional 1,000 pounds of silver bullion, and 3,039 pounds of copper coins.

The seized coins include Liberty Dollars owned by an estimated 250,000 purchasers who were storing them in NORFED’s leased “vault” at Sunshine Minting, Michel said. The owner of the mint, Tom Power, did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

Spokane attorney Ronald Van Wert, who represents Sunshine Minting, said Power and the Coeur d’Alene mint  “are not involved in the forfeiture action at all.”

Power, who was subpoenaed but not called as a witness for the criminal trial, became owner of Sunshine Minting in 2007 — eight years after the mint began manufacturing the Liberty Dollars under a contract with von NotHaus.

“It’s like making widgets,” Van Wert said. “You get paid and make the widget. We had no involvement with what he [von NotHaus] did with the coins after they were minted.”

Since the seizure, the price of an ounce of silver has increased from $20 to about $35, and the numismatic value of the Liberty Dollars is skyrocketing because the government now considers them contraband and they’re a hot item with some coin collectors, Michel said.

“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.”

The defense attorney also was sharply critical of Anne M. Tompkins, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Prosecutors “painted Mr. von NotHaus in an inflammatory, false light to get a conviction,’’ Michel said. “Now, in a Department of Justice press release they’re characterizing him as a ‘domestic terrorist.’”

The jury spent only 90 minutes deliberating before convicting von NotHaus of making coins “resembling and similar to U.S. coins,” and issuing, passing, selling and possessing Liberty Dollars intended for use as common currency.

“Attempts to undermine the legitimate currency of this country are simply a unique form of domestic terrorism,” Tompkins said in a Department of Justice news release after the conviction.

“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,” Tompkins said in the statement.

The investigation, begun in 2005, involved undercover purchases of Liberty Dollars by an FBI agent in North Carolina, court documents show. The FBI was assisted by the U.S. Secret Service, the United States Mint and the Buncombe, N.C., sheriff’s department.

Von NotHaus, a self-described “monetary architect,” began producing his Liberty Dollars in 1998 when he lived in Hawaii where he worked at the Honolulu Mint.  His organization, initially formed as a tax-exempt nonprofit, later changed its name to Liberty Services.

Its headquarters eventually was based in Evansville, Ind., where its first marketing director was James W. Thomas, publisher of Media Bypass, a now-defunct magazine directed at antigovernment “Patriot” groups and individuals.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Just a little more Fed-conspiracy debunking: http://www.publiceye.org/consp.....serve.html

    In B4 “But those are LIBRUL websites!!!”

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Some thorough debunking of Fed conspiracy theories:

    http://conspiracyscience.com/a.....art-three/

    The writer is not an “intellectual” so Dick should be cool with him.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    BTW Dick, I am aware of Glenn Beck’s long-discredited sources, such as W. Cleon Skousen and Elizabeth Dilling. You’re going to have to do better than the dry drunk radio DJ.

    The reason why you don’t like “intellectuals” is because in the real world, history, politics, and economics are complicated. You want a black and white world with good guys and bad guys. Intellectuals ruin your day because it turns out that there isn’t some secret cabal of men running everything. Who will you blame for your failure if not them?

    So again- EVIDENCE Dick, let’s see some.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Dick, you need to present evidence of your claims. Especially this: “We are just now learning that the Fed bailed out EUROPEAN banks in September 2008. WHY? Because the Fed is out of American government control. America is run by an international oligarchy and Obama is just its puppet.”

    You suggest a “vacation” from the intellectuals. Ok, WHO are the intellectuals- I want names, and I want to know who we SHOULD listen to? Some radio DJ? Some guy with a snazzy website?

    Evidence Dick. Stop whining and produce evidence of your claims.

  • Dick Lancaster

    What’s your point, Beverly? Are you buying the author’s assertion that folks opposed to the Federal Reserve Act are Jew-haters? It is mainly the left who keep the stereotype intact by blaming fiscally reponsible citizens for Jew-hating because it keeps their agenda going.

    The psudo-intellectuals that frequntly appear here also mislead you with colorful, long winded, big word arguments. If you counter them they call you stupid or racist.

    One of their most hated and frequently attacked personalities is Glenn Beck. Ask yourself why?

    Glenn Beck is a bumbling, emotional nobody who has become the left’s # 1 enemy. How? He accepted opportunities when they were extended, educated himself and then started to educate the nation like no other. This former boozer/junkie didn’t attend the ivy league schools, has no credentials and does not claim any special intellectual gifts. Yet he has grown in influence enough to strike fear into the elitists enough that Media Matters has declared war on him. When you are that dispised by your enemies, you are a powerful opponent. And Beck will remain so as long as he brings the truth to light and asks you to check his facts.

    The intellectuals will tell you what the “facts” are with big words. And if you wish to consider thier opponents views, they will attack that personality viciously. YOU MUST LEARN FROM LIBERAL INTELLECTUALS ONLY. Otherwise, how will they enslave you?

    By the way. Terms like “sub-intellegent” and “under sized brains” are how people with no argument describe folks who disagree with them. If you really want to learn something of value, try a little vacation from the intellectuals.

  • Beverly Kurtin

    It’s fascinating how so many sub-intelligent people think that all Jews are rich and all Jews are just rolling in dough. These Neanderthals are convinced in their undersized brains that Jews control all newspapers, banks, media, etc. Then why, I wonder why I, a Jew, lives on less than $20,000 a year from Social Security? I had an ill child and because he had a pre-existing disease and we had no insurance but STILL a gentile bank STOLE MY 401(k) by DELIBERATELY waiting several weeks while the value of my stocks tumbled; but I would still have only had less than $100,000 which is not enough for a decent retirement as anyone above the IQ level of 75 knows.

    Twenty-five percent of Israelis live in poverty and most Jews world-wide are poor, dirt poor. The lies and myths that are spread about Jewish money are usually spread by ignorant losers i this life. They can’t make it in the world so they have to decide who they think they want to hate. Anyone who isn’t white, of course, anyone who speaks with an accent (the government gives them lots of money to start businesses to keep the real white man down, you know)…even Jews who are Caucasian are not considered “white” for some reason. The morons think Jews are a separate “race.” That we are NOT. We are a nation and a people. We include EVERY race and every color. Judaism is open to anyone who decides to live as a Jew, it is not a private club.

    About the main thing that separates us from our gentile neighbors is the way many of us eat, we do not believe in Jesus, and we do not accept that there is a “new testament” as it was prohibited in the last book of the Torah (Deuteronomy 4;2). But financially, we’re no different; some Jews are wealthy, the majority are not, just as our non-Jewish neighbor and friends.

    We have won our share and more of Nobel prizes and have invented or improved. Recently, Israeli doctors have invented a radiation free lung x-ray device that can spot anything in the lungs and soon will be used to detect heart defects. Add to that the device will be able to be used by any doctor, it will eliminate trips to specialists! They invented the Pentium chips and the Celeron chips at Intel’s plant in Israel. Cellphone technology was perfected in, yup, Israel. Like to wear jeans? Two Jews invented the cloth that is used in them. The list of Jewish and Israeli inventions is longer than you can believe.

    Are you old enough to remember the fear of Polio? A Jewish doctor not only invented the cure but did not patent it with the remark, “Would you try to patent the sun?”

    Jews give to charity in amounts that exceed what is considered “normal.” When the terrible earthquake happened in Haiti, Israel was there first with a complete hospital that made any M*A*S*H look like a doctor’s office. The Israelis ALWAYS help one way or the other.

    Are they keeping the Arabs (who call themselves Palestinians–a term used to mean Jews in Israel) prisoners in their own land? No. Their governments are. The billions of dollars that have been wasted on them have been used by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to do as much damage to Israel that they can. OVER 700 ROCKETS HAVE BEEN LOBBED INTO ISRAEL THIS YEAR ALONE, KILLING AND WOUNDED CHILDREN, WOMEN AND MEN WHO WERE DOING NOTHING BUT TRYING TO LIVE. Oh, what’s that, you haven’t read anything about that? Of course not. The media is owned lock, stock and barrel by the Arabs and if a reporter reports the truth, a fatwah is issued and they are DEAD.

    Israel wants peace; the Arabs want piece…exactly the same size and shape of the entire State of Israel. Israel has no peace partner with which to talk. NONE. Just as soon as Israel made a concession, the Arabs raise the stakes and raise and raise. Israel cannot cede one more centimeter of land to the Arabs because they will just take it to attack Israel.

    Jews have, for nearly 3,000 years, been hated and shunned because our way of life is moral. Hitler wanted to wipe us off the earth because of our moral codes just as we have been persecuted since we left Egypt.

    Eventually, the world will come to a knowledge of the one God; that will be the day peace will reign on this planet. Util then…

  • Dick Lancaster

    If I took you outside, Kate, showed you the sky and told you it was blue, you would deny it and hand me another intellectual argument that the sky is not actually blue. It appears to be blue due to the kight diffusion, etc., etc., you say.

    We are just now learning that the Fed bailed out EUROPEAN banks in September 2008. WHY? Because the Fed is out of American government control. America is run by an international oligarchy and Obama is just its puppet.

  • kate

    Paranoia mixed with a penchant for simplistic answers.

    “The above quote from Mortin’s article implies that those who oppose the Federal Reserve do so because the bankers are Jewish.”

    No, it records the fact that those who complain about “Jewish bankers” typically have an anti-semitic bent to most of their government and economic theories as you suggest with your “European (Rothschild) and American (Rockefeller) banking interests who conceived the idea and made it happen.”

    Over 6 million innocent people were slaughtered in our recent history due to drivel of this type.

    1. “Nor is the Federal Reserve a result of capitalism. In fact, it was established to banish capitalism.”

    2. “The only difference between an oligarchy and communism is the degree of perception and implementation. ”

    Really?

    I find it really interesting as well that those who partake of these lunatic theories and ideas always wish to hide from them and pass them off as mainstream.

    Hence, the above writer’s dismay when the article notes that most of the liberty currency buyers are noted to be members of the nut fringe, “And this quote, which precedes the former, assigns the popularity of the liberty currency to “sovereign citizens”, which Mortin bases solely on appearance; appearance to whom?”

    Or when Mortin points out that anti-semitic themes seem to run rampant among these groups, “Thank God there are some Jewish bankers among them or SPLC would not have an avenue to pin anti-Semitism on those they oppose.”

    Even little kids learn so enough that flapping your hands in the air and waving, “I didn’t do it! Not me!” doesn’t work well when you’ve got the evidence all over yourself.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    “Nor is the Federal Reserve a result of capitalism. In fact, it was established to banish capitalism. The Fed was designed to set up an oligarchy and it was European (Rothschild) and American (Rockefeller) banking interests who conceived the idea and made it happen.”

    That’s hilarious. You don’t even know what capitalism means do you? Capitalism requires credit, central banking ensures a more stable economy. Do you have any idea what banking in America was like prior to the Federal Reserve? Banks failed all the time, and banks could refuse the money you had at will. Also your conspiracy theory is compelling but wrong.

    “The only difference between an oligarchy and communism is the degree of perception and implementation. An oligarchy controls the wealth by manipulating production and welfare behind the scenes. Communism is much more blatant in that it needs no stealth. Both systems result in the elimination of a middle class. ”

    Dick, you don’t know what Communism or capitalism are. This is what happens when you go to Glenn Beck University. You get idiotic conspiracy theories. Oligarchy is a natural tendency of capitalism. This consolidation can be observed throughout history. Your conspiracy theories can’t.

    Enlightened, anyone?

  • Dick Lancaster

    “The common denominator: challenging the authority of the federal government to tax and regulate, along with the notion that the Federal Reserve is controlled by private Jewish bankers.”

    The above quote from Mortin’s article implies that those who oppose the Federal Reserve do so because the bankers are Jewish. It may be because the Fed is corrupt. Thank God there are some Jewish bankers among them or SPLC would not have an avenue to pin anti-Semitism on those they oppose.

    “But most buyers, (of the liberty currency) it appears, came from the ranks of anti-tax or radical “sovereign citizen” movements.”

    And this quote, which precedes the former, assigns the popularity of the liberty currency to “sovereign citizens”, which Mortin bases solely on appearance; appearance to whom?

    The Federal Reserve System is NOT controlled by any government branch. Its 7 directors are appointed to 14 year terms by the President after which they do as they please. The only control the U.S. government has over the Fed is to refuse to print the dollars they demand. But that has NEVER happened in its 100 year history.

    Nor is the Federal Reserve a result of capitalism. In fact, it was established to banish capitalism. The Fed was designed to set up an oligarchy and it was European (Rothschild) and American (Rockefeller) banking interests who conceived the idea and made it happen.

    The only difference between an oligarchy and communism is the degree of perception and implementation. An oligarchy controls the wealth by manipulating production and welfare behind the scenes. Communism is much more blatant in that it needs no stealth. Both systems result in the elimination of a middle class.

    Enlightened, anyone?

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    “Store gift cards have “real exchnge value” and are not U.S. Currency.”

    And do not claim to be such. Store gift cards are also used for private businesses, not some kind of underground economy.

    ” Hide them if you have conservative veiws. You will be arrested.”

    Yes, poor conservatives are so persecuted.

    ” As for The Federal reserve, there is nothing federal about it. It is a consortium of private, global banking interests–jewish and not. So if you oppose the global banking interests and they move a few more Jewish bankers in there, then you can be an anti-semite as well.”

    Incorrect. The Federal Reserve is made up of private but AMERICAN banks, with some government oversight. That the business of private banks is affected by the global economy is a natural effect of capitalism- this cannot be changed without overthrowing the whole mode of production.

    It is interesting that you feel the need to highlight Jews in banking, and not Chinese, Arabs, Indians, Koreans, etc. Of course the typical anti-Semite assumes that while others involved in something like banking are just in it for the money, Jews are in it because they have some collective, ulterior motive. Do enlighten us on that.

  • Sean Joskins

    How many individuals or corporations were criminally prosecuted for causing the financial crisis of 2008?

    “There’s nothing illegal about this,” Dickens said after the Treasury Department’s legal team reviewed the currency. “As long as it doesn’t say legal tender there’s nothing wrong with it.”
    http://web.archive.org/web/200.....gillis.htm

    “If these (NORFED) people want to issue their own money, so be it. It will be interesting to see what the public thinks,” Rolnick said [director of research for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis].
    http://web.archive.org/web/200.....romnes.htm

    “It’s not counterfeit money,” concurs Ron Legan, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Seattle, Wash., Secret Service field office. Having investigated this regulatory matter closely, he concludes that the silver certificates are well within the highly restrictive boundaries of American monetary guidelines. “We determined there wasn’t a federal currency violation,” he explains. Although Legan concedes to being “skeptical” of NORFED, he admits there have been no “defrauds” or “complaints” filed against the political organization.
    http://web.archive.org/web/200.....nelson.htm

  • The Omega Man

    Ever since 9/11/2001, anyone or any organization proclaiming ‘Liberty’ and or ‘Freedom’ as part of their agenda or company name makes me very wary. These people and organizations intend to strip you of your Liberty and Freedom.

  • Dick Lancaster

    Store gift cards have “real exchnge value” and are not U.S. Currency. Hide them if you have conservative veiws. You will be arrested. As for The Federal reserve, there is nothing federal about it. It is a consortium of private, global banking interests–jewish and not. So if you oppose the global banking interests and they move a few more Jewish bankers in there, then you can be an anti-semite as well.

    The pothead really doesn’t fit the profile of a right-wing militant so author Bill Mortin takes an imaginary survey to conclude, “But most buyers, it appears, came from the ranks of anti-tax or radical “sovereign citizen” movements.” Appears to whom, Bill?

    SPLC better nip this in the bud. Even the potheads see the tyranny in the federal reserve and it’s only a matter of time before everyone sees it. Two plus two is four. Always has been. Always will be. It won’t be the right not the left that brings down our country. It will be arithmetic.

  • beachcomberT

    It would be interesting to read the fine print of the indictment. Unless NutHouse was passing off his coins and bills as “real” currency — i.e. legal tender — I don’t know what the crime is. Lots of companies make commemorative coins and bills, and some even make a political statement. And seizing stored coins owned by thousands of customers seems like overreaching. If the coins were stored, then by definition they were not in “currency” and were not being used as legal tender. They may have been just collectibles or a way of owning a precious metal for investment purposes.

  • CM

    Well, at least we don’t have to ask what Nothaus has been smoking.

  • Jordan

    Ian,
    ” ‘According to the evil ZOG, this does not count as real money, but it totally is’ ” Hmm… I think that the “but it totally is” would blow it. Non-federally issued money can say what ever it wants, but it has to make 100% sure that it can’t be “mistaken” for real money, it must clearly assert that it is ‘fake money’.

  • Sam Molloy

    What I’m saying is he fell for the same garbage that all the kids in the mall think. That any money has value at all.

  • CalperniaUSA

    They also minted Ameros.

  • Linnea

    This guy isn’t just printing his own currency. He’s also questioning the power of the feds to tax and regulate. He needs to go read the Constitution again. Besides that, he sounds like your typical anti-Semitic conspiracy-monger. Not sure I’d go so far as to call this “domestic terrorism” (I think the prosecutor overstepped on that) but this country does have laws against people printing their own currency.

  • Ian

    Does anyone know if it could be a First Amendment issue if the bills were written a certain way?

    I know it’s illegal to, as Stephen pointed out, print something passing itself off as currency. But can someone make a bill like that and just add “According to the evil ZOG, this does not count as real money, but it totally is” or words to that effect?

  • Aron

    Stephen,

    Very well put. Thank you for so eloquently explaining the situation for those of us who might be confused.

    And I totally agree with you re: displaying the bills. I think they would be rather hilarious.

  • Stephen Villano

    One CAN print one’s own money, IF it’s firmly declared that it is NON-NEGOTIABLE as currency.
    I can have a store and print “Steve’s Bucks”, redeemable for merchandise or services at my store and participating merchants.
    I can’t print something represented as CURRENCY. THAT is unlawful in every nation on the face of the Earth.
    That said, I’d LOVE to acquire a few bills, even IF they’re stamped by the government as counterfeit. To be put on display as an idiocy award for the counterfeiter.

  • Reynardine

    That can’t be the name he was born with! Is this an expensive put-on?

  • Sam Molloy

    Money is only a tool and has no actual value as food or a building material. As the value of currency changes, the only thing that holds it’s value is a talent at some marketable skill. Assembling and repairing computers, cars or trucks, building houses, stringing wires and pipes, even picking up aluminum cans is worth more than gold.

  • Jordan

    James,
    No, I don’t think it is a violent crime, but it is still quite illegal (the U.S. Constitution gives the federal government the sole right to mint currency), and it is considered ‘domestic terrorism’ because it is an attack on one of the United States federal government’s constitutional powers.

  • Aron

    But it is still illegal in the US to print your own currency. That’s the problem.

  • http://www.apolitical.info James Hutchings

    I’m not American, but I imagine that most people wouldn’t consider this a moral crime, let alone “domestic terrorism”.

  • Aron

    I actually may try to purchase a few liberty dollars. The concept has always made me laugh, and I think they would be a neat collectible.

  • http://theblogthatam.yolasite.com/blog.php IludiumPhosdex

    How do we know the assets in question aren’t actually offshore For Obvious Reasons, or so its supporters will claim?

  • Ian

    Is that a picture of the federally-run Statute of Liberty on those Liberty Dollars?

    Please tell me it isn’t. I don’t think my body can handle so much irony in one sitting.