The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
A federal judge in North Carolina has denied a motion to set aside the 2011 jury conviction of a Bernard von NotHaus, an antigovernment activist who minted and sold his own silver coins in competition with U.S. government.
The protracted and complex legal case attracted widespread interest from gold and coin enthusiasts, as well as antigovernment activists and antigovernment “sovereign citizens” who say the government cannot control them.
The 47-page ruling, filed Nov. 10 by U.S. District Judge Richard Vorhees, came three years after von NotHaus’ conviction in Asheville, N.C., and the filing of assorted post-trial motions, including an attempted legal intervention by Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee, Inc. The ruling on those motions, all rejected as baseless by the court, clears the way for von NotHaus’ sentencing next month.
After his conviction, the man who described himself as the “architect of the free-money movement” argued that federal laws under which he was charged are unconstitutional and that federal prosecutors didn’t present sufficient evidence showing he intended to violate counterfeit laws.
The 70-year-old founder of the so-called “Liberty Dollar Operation” minted his own silver coins that looked very much like U.S. silver dollars, intending them to be used as “private barter currency” for goods and services in direct competition with the Federal Reserve. He sold them to distributors in a Pyramid-style operation, accepting Federal Reserve greenbacks for the purchases, reportedly putting more than $20 million Liberty Dollars into circulation before being arrested by the FBI on federal counterfeiting and conspiracy charges.
The post-conviction motions, the judge said, presented “a question as to the scope and extent” of Congress’ exclusive power to coin money.
Von NotHaus argued his conviction “infringes on the public’s right to utilize private bartering systems” and that it is not illegal or counterfeiting for a private individual to compete with the Federal Reserve.
The judge said he was not ruling that private barter systems are illegal. He also said that while the Constitution doesn’t give Congress the exclusive right to coin money, it does “expressly prohibit” states from doing that.
“It is undisputed that Congress has the ability to enact comprehensive laws concerning the coinage of money, the value of money, and counterfeiting,” the judge’s ruling said.
Further, the judge ruled that Congress does indeed possess the power to make it illegal for someone like von NotHaus to mint coins—whether they resemble U.S. coins or are of original design—if they are intended for use in monetary transactions.
Vorhees order said the jury that heard the evidence against von NotHaus found that his Liberty Dollars were counterfeit and that he intended to break federal law by minting and selling them.
After earlier interest by the Secret Service, the FBI opened a criminal investigation in 2004 after the Asheville, N.C., police department got a report the State Employees Credit Union that someone had attempt to “pass a coin that looked similar to United States coinage.”
The judge said the jury that heard the case “was in a position to evaluate the specific and fine points of the Liberty Dollars” before unanimously concluding they were counterfeit and that von NotHaus intended to break federal law.
“There is a heavy burden to prove that a jury’s verdict and findings of facts are wrong,” the judge said, denying von NotHaus’ motions to set aside his convictions or grant a new trial.
While operating the Royal Hawaiian Mint in the late 1990s, von NotHaus founded “The National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve Act and Internal Revenue Code” or NORFED. To circumvent laws, he also started the Free Marijuana Church of Honolulu, where he called himself the “high priest.”
But it was his Liberty Dollar operation that captured national headlines as von NotHaus claimed NORFED would compete with the Federal Reserve System just like FedEx does with the U.S. Postal Service.
He later moved its headquarters to Evansville, Ind., Later, where he teamed with James W. Thomas, publisher of Media Bypass, a now-defunct magazine popular with antigovernment “Patriots,” sovereign citizens and extremists with anti-Semitic agendas.
NORFED issued and circulated five coins in one, five, ten, twenty and fifty dollar denominations. The Liberty Dollars, marked as “America’s inflation-proof currency,” were minted at Sunshine Minting, Inc. in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
While the coins actually contained silver, trial evidence showed von NotHaus and his operation would recall and re-mint the coins if the “average spot price” of that precious metal exceeded the face value of a particular coin.
“We never refer to the American Liberty as a coin,” von NotHaus said in an interview in 1999. “The word ‘coin’ is a government-controlled term. This is currency that is free from government control.”
“When the people own the money, they control the government,” he said. “When the government owns the money, it controls the people.”
Instead of going to trial on multiple federal charges, Kirby K. Kehoe, 65, and his 37-year-old son, Cheyne, struck plea deals with federal prosecutors, with each pleading guilty to a single count before Magistrate Judge Michelle H. Burns. The elder Kehoe pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, and his son to being a felon in possession of firearms.
The Kehoes are best known for the exploits of Cheyne Kehoe and his brother, Chevie, who is still serving a life term for his leadership of a terrorist cell called the Aryan Republican Army. Both were involved in shootouts with police, and Chevie led the gang in the torture-murder of a family of three, including an 8-year-old girl who was smothered to death after being shocked with a cattle prod.
As part of the plea bargains, four other federal felony charges will be dismissed against Kirby Kehoe and three will be dismissed against Cheyne Kehoe, court documents show. The judge ordered background reports on both defendants and set sentencing for mid-May. Under the deal, Kirby Kehoe faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, and his son faces the low-end of the sentencing guideline range, probably about five years.
The pair, who have been affiliated with a series of white supremacist groups, were arrested last Oct. 14 when agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives raided an “off-the-grid compound” 140 miles north of Phoenix, near Ash Fork, Ariz. Kehoe and his son were indicted on Nov. 6 by a grand jury in Phoenix. ( continue to full post… )
The National Review, founded by conservative intellectual William Buckley in 1955, describes itself as America’s most influential conservative journal and, certainly for most of its life, it has been that. While it did defend for many years the segregationist leaders of the South, it has generally portrayed itself as the voice of responsible conservatism, and in fact did effectively marginalize anti-Semites, the conspiracist John Birch Society, and a variety of immigrant-bashing nativists.
So what’s it doing promoting the myth of FEMA concentration camps?
In a fascinating investigative article at ThinkProgress, writer Zack Beauchamp details what looks an awful lot like a scam run by a company called Reboot Marketing, founded by one Allen Baler. The story details how the company makes a fortune running such online marketing firms as Food4Patriots, Power4Patriots, SurvivalSeeds4Patriots, Water4Patriots and the Patriot Alliance.
But a special point of interest for Hatewatch is the way Beauchamp describes marketing E-mails from the National Review promoting sponsoring advertiser Food4Patriots. They rant about the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s “Dirty Little Secret,” warn that it has snapped up “420 million survival meals” because it knows that is the best way to control the population, and suggest a terrible crisis is coming. The Review urges readers to buy Food4Patriots’ survival products to “make darn sure your family won’t go hungry or get herded into a FEMA camp.” ( continue to full post… )
White supremacists are atwitter after the disclosure by Hatewatch last week that Craig Cobb and other extremists have been buying up properties in the tiny town of Leith, N.D., with the intention of creating an all-white enclave.
Lengthy threads have popped up on the hate forums Stormfront and Vanguard News Network (VNN), with many white supremacists endorsing the idea of a white living space. But most of the action is taking place in a relatively new Internet forum, White Nations, which started this past May after its owner, “Fred O’Malley,” was kicked off VNN. ( continue to full post… )
Editor’s Update: According to a posting yesterday on the hate site Stormfront, longtime white nationalist April Gaede and her husband Mark Harrington also own property in Leith, N.D. Gaede’s post describes the town as a “Lovely Place!!!” Gaede is perhaps best known for promoting the idea of white nationalists moving to her hometown of Kalispell, Mont. This would create what she calls a Pioneer Little Europe community for “racially conscious” whites. Also posted on White Nations early this morning by “Spook Haunter” was this allegedly about Craig Cobb, the man who has been organizing the purchase of property by racists in Leith: “Craig mentioned he was just fired from his job.” Cobb is wanted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He left Canada before being charged with willful promotion of hatred for allegedly promoting hate material online while in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2010.
LEITH, N.D. –– Abandoned houses lean with the weight of years on city blocks connected by gravel roads. A grain elevator still operates on the edge of town, but it hasn’t seen good business in decades. The only storefront business is a bar, and on most afternoons it sits empty like the roads that disappear among sunflower and wheat fields in the distance.
While the economy in North Dakota has boomed in recent years due to the discovery of oil in the miles of shale beneath the state, business in Leith has been in decline for the better part of a century. So when officials in April 2012 noticed that one man was quickly buying up abandoned properties in what had become close to a ghost town high on the Great Plains, it was strange.
“I didn’t have a clue who the guy was until he showed up. All I know is he bought that house sight unseen, $5,000 cash, and had no idea what it looked like, where it was, other than he knew the directions to get to Leith,” Leith Mayor Ryan Schock, a farmer who has lived here all his life, told Hatewatch. ( continue to full post… )
A federal judge in Seattle had a short, simple message for a 70-year-old “sovereign citizen” accountant who persuaded other antigovernment activists to file fraudulent tax returns that called for refunds equal to their personal debts.
The tax fraud cost the government $700,000 in erroneous payments. For his work, Bell received a 10 percent cut of the refunds paid to others and a flat fee for each bogus return he filed. He also received a fraudulent refund on his own taxes of approximately $35,000.
“Your scheme … is fraud at its core,” U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton told Raymond Leo Jarlik Bell. “You are hurting people intentionally, regardless of your adherence to [your beliefs].” ( continue to full post… )
We live in frightening times. In Boston, a college student who appears to have been radicalized online may face lethal injection for his alleged role in a terrorist attack that left four people dead and more than 260 wounded. Just a few months ago, in Connecticut, a young man killed 20 young children and six adults before shooting himself with one of numerous guns borrowed from his mother’s arsenal.
While America is searches its soul, attempting to make sense of these and other horrific attacks that have rocked the nation with disturbing regularity over the last several years, gun rights absolutists have flooded the Internet and airwaves with wild-eyed talk of sinister government plans to undermine the Second Amendment and disarm harmless American patriots.
At the bottom of the barrel are those who seek to profit off these national tragedies. That’s where you’ll find Caleb Lee, a veteran huckster who has partnered with WorldNetDaily, Glenn Beck and others to offer anyone with $27 information on how to built a completely untraceable AR-15 assault rifle in the comfort of their own garage. ( continue to full post… )
With W-2s and 1040s in the mail, tax season is getting into full swing. And even white nationalists have to pay their taxes if they’re not living off the grid. But where does a proud Aryan go to find a tax preparer who understands the special needs of white people?
They needn’t look any farther than the classifieds at Stormfront.org, the massive Web forum run by a former Alabama Klan leader in West Palm Beach, Fla. Under “Tax Preparation” is this ad: “Please stop using main Jew owned tax services from H&R Block and use one of your own! Please share and pass along.” ( continue to full post… )
Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition! When it comes to finding bargains for its subscribers, the team at WorldNetDaily, Joseph Farah’s conspiracy-mongering online publication, is never at a loss. Yesterday, in an E-mail titled “Gun Control Imminent – Stock Up Now!” they offered up a real sweetheart: “Burnin Hot Deals” from USA Ammo (motto: “Ammunition with Attitude”), which is offering a free Hat, T-Shirt, & DVD with every gift card purchase.
The ammo supplier has some useful information for those who’ve been putting off their gun purchases.
“USAAmmo.com believes tyranny is knocking down the doors of American cities daily,” the ad confides. “The recent Occupy Wall Street protests and liberal attempts at gun control are eerily reminiscent to [sic] the rise of Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot and Idi Amin. Barack Obama and Erick [sic] Holder, gun control advocates, are secretly conspiring to strip American Citizens of the right to bear arms.” ( continue to full post… )
Federal fugitive David Earl Burgert would likely find a survivalist, government-bashing event set for this weekend much to his liking. What’s more, it would probably be convenient — after all, it’s just down the road from a shootout he allegedly had last Sunday with deputies in western Montana.
On Saturday, a group of self-described constitutionalists and “Patriots” called the Flathead Liberty Bell will host a “Preparedness Expo” at Valley Victory Christian Church in Kalispell. That’s the same community where Burgert lived in 2002, when he headed a secret militia group called “Project 7” whose activities sent him to federal prison on weapons charges for eight years.
Those scheduled to speak at the survivalist gathering include antigovernment headliners Stewart Rhodes, the founder of Oath Keepers, a group of law enforcement officers, members of the military and veterans with a conspiratorial bent; Chuck Baldwin, a former presidential candidate of the far-right Constitution Party; former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack, a hero to many Patriots for challenging a 1990s gun control law; and “special guest” Randy Weaver, a white supremacist who engaged in a famous standoff on Ruby Ridge with federal authorities in 1992. ( continue to full post… )