Federal Pirates Out to Steal Private Silver Coins

The latest news on the ongoing injustice against convicted Liberty Dollars maker and dealer Bernard Von NotHaus, from Seattle Times via 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 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 has argued it's not illegal to create currency to privately trade goods and services. He also has said his organization took pains to say the Liberty Dollars shouldn't be called "coins" and shouldn't be presented as government-minted cash....

Numerous cities and regions around the country have experimented with local currency, but laws restrict them from resembling U.S. bills or from being passed off as money printed by the federal government.

The concerns raised by von NotHaus and his group are finding resonance among some state lawmakers, too. About a dozen states have legislation that would allow them to produce their own currency backed by gold or silver in the event of hyperinflation striking the U.S. dollar. North and South Carolina are among those states.

And of course in the mix, for absolutely no good reason whatever? The Southern Poverty Law Center, fanner of the flames of centrist hysteria:

That's partly why von NotHaus' group has been followed for years by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that tracks political extremism. Long before the government began its investigation into von NotHaus, the group was raising concerns about the popularity of Liberty Dollars among fringe groups on the far right.

"He's playing on a core idea of the radical right, that evil bankers in the Federal Reserve are ripping you off by controlling the money supply," said Mark Potok, spokesman for the group. "He very much exists in the world of the anti-government patriot movement, whatever he may say. That's who his customers are."

Von NotHaus is currently free on bond. If the conviction against him is upheld, he faces up to 25 years in prison and a fine of $750,000. A sentencing date has not been set yet.

Von NotHaus talked about the case with a Michigan NBC station:

"People are interested in their money and when they know they're getting screwed, they get real interested in their money and that's why the government cracked down on Liberty Dollar," von NotHaus tells NBC25.

In 2010, NBC25 did a series of stories on this competing currency with thousands of people liking it and sharing it on Facebook.

Liberty Dollar says its product is different from and superior to U.S. legal tender because it's inflation-proof and based on the value of precious metals.

"In the last 10 years, the Liberty Dollar went from a $10 base to a $50 base. It increased in value 500%. The other currency in the last ten years lost 50% of its purchasing power," says von NotHaus. "How can a counterfeit be worth more than the original?"

Past Reason writings on this case.

NOTE: The original headline, now corrected, referred mistakenly to gold coins, not the proper silver.

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  • ||

    Totally off topic, but I figured this would be the thread for this link.

    Pizza Shop Robbed; Owner Now Wants Workers Armed

    Money quotes abound:

    A sign in front of the business reads, “We Now Carry.”

  • Travis Bickle||

    You orderin' from me?

  • Pornstar||

    Now that's what I call a sausage...

  • Federal Pirate||

    Surrender the booty.

  • Old Mexican||

    Numerous cities and regions around the country have experimented with local currency, but laws restrict them from resembling U.S. bills or from being passed off as money printed by the federal government.


    I believe the main point behind the Liberty Dollar was not to resemble FNRs in any economical way.

    That's partly why von NotHaus' group has been followed for years by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that tracks political extremism. Long before the government began its investigation into von NotHaus, the group was raising concerns about the popularity of Liberty Dollars among fringe groups on the far right.


    As if the mere fact that its popularity among the so-called "fringe groups" was enough to raise concerns about the legality of the product. If Lee's jeans started to be the most popular item in a fringe group wardrobe, woult that be enough for the SPLC to call for an investigation of Lee's Jeans?

    Idiots.

  • Old Mexican||

    Disclaimer: I have never bought into the Liberty Dollar deal as it clearly resembled a multilevel marketing scheme, plus the idea of fixing the value of the amount of silver to a specific dollar value left too much arbitrage between silver weight prices and the coined value.

    However, this case interested me because of the clear and gross abuse committed by the Federal Government, working as puppet of the Federal Reserve.

  • ||

    If Lee's jeans started to be the most popular item in a fringe group wardrobe, woult that be enough for the SPLC to call for an investigation of Lee's Jeans?

    Headline: Feds Raid Carhartt Factory

  • ||

    Pretty sure the answer is yes.

    The outrage industry, of which SPLC is the prime example, isn't picky about its marketing techniques.

  • Xenocles||

    Lee jeans share a name with a major separatist leader, so they're obviously a major concern.

  • Billy!||

    Dr. Marten's might not be racist but it's the number one footwear among racists.

  • The Gobbler||

    They are mighty comfortable regardless.

  • Tim||

    Call me ignorant but how is what he did different from selling any other coin or ingot of precious metals?

  • ||

    The suggestion that what he was selling was in competition with FRNs as tender.

  • Billy!||

    More importantly: why would a man who didn't believe in the US dollar create a product and exchange it for dollars?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Billy!

    why would a man who didn't believe in the US dollar create a product and exchange it for dollars?


    He still has to pay his silver supplier (and his taxes) in US Dollars. That's why.

    Ok, jokes aside... uh, ok, it was not really a joke but still... it was a scheme, albeit not an illegal scheme. The FedGov just invented a "law" to prosecute the guy.

  • ||

    He's exchanging it for more dollars than the current bullion value of the coins, and using those dollars to pay his mint employees and buy more metal, parts for equipment, and food and clothes for his children. The pace of inflation is slow enough currently that this is sustainable.

    Once hyperinflation hits, no one is going to sell metal for dollars (at least not without an astronomical markup).

  • Stretchy||

    Evil bankers are ripping you off? I'm pretty sure that's not just coming from the radical right.

  • ||

    No, see the wrong part was that Fed bankers were evil. Only non-government affiliated bankers are evil.

  • Rich||

    The SPLC's playing on a core idea of the radical left, that beneficent bankers in the Federal Reserve are keeping you well off by controlling the money supply.

  • kbolino||

    I'm pretty sure the "radical left" hates the Federal Reserve as a symbol of capitalist excess.

    What you're talking about is the "mainstream left, right, and center" but don't let that get in the way of your left-bashing.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    There's nothing wrong with left-bashing, as long as one bashes the right as well.

  • yonemoto||

    dude, the radical left doesn't know the federal reserve from federal express.

  • Otto||

    That's what I came here to say. I didn't know that Dennis Kucinich was part of the radical right. I'm sure it'll be news to him as well.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    How can a counterfeit be worth more than the original?

    Fool! The worth is not just the monetary value. Economic control is very valuable to the state, so you must add that value to the orignal.

  • fish||

    I wonder what his co-workers think of Mark Potok? More importantly I wonder if he has a clue that he is just the "useful idiot" who fronts for the money....Mo Dees et. al.

  • Holy Fuck||

    I suppose Mark Potfuk would want to criminalize private ownership of precious metals in any form. What an asshole.

  • ||

    Um, organic tea is pupular among the fringe left. We should investigate its legality, STAT!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "He very much exists in the world of the anti-government patriot movement, whatever he may say. That's who his customers are."

    It sounds like the Southern Poverty Law Center is thinking what I'm thinking. These silver coins bear a striking resemblence to the MEFO bills that a certain someone used to secretly finance the rebuilding of a certain war machine when it was expressly verboten by a certain treaty.

  • ||

    SAY IT!

  • db||

    ...pation.

  • ||

    Maybe being more specific 'next time' would actually help such a deal in marketing terms: Call then 'Anti-Feds' and proudly proclaim that this has nothing to do with 'real' money.

  • underzogged||

    "He's playing on a core idea of the radical right, that evil bankers in the Federal Reserve are ripping you off by controlling the money supply," said Mark Potok, spokesman for the group. "He very much exists in the world of the anti-government patriot movement, whatever he may say. That's who his customers are.

    Oh, SPCI, you only hate neo-Nazis because you consider them your main competition in building a strong central government capable of exterminating someone.

  • .||

    Commies see Nazis everwhere.

  • ||

    He very much exists in the world of the anti-government patriot movement

    What does that even mean? I know what they're trying to say because SPLC is a broken record on anything involving radical conservatives, but this goes even beyond Palin levels of incoherence and pushes up against the Quayle barrier.

  • MNG||

    Did you see Star Trek V where they broke and went past the Quayle barrier?

  • ||

    It was Quayle's justice department that ordered the hit on Randy Weaver's wife and infant.

    Thus, which of the following does not belong:

    (1) Quayle
    (2) Palin
    (3) SPLC
    (4) Bernard Von Nothaus

  • ||

    Wait, Quayle had a justice department?

  • underzogged||

    One of the smartest smarties here and you actually bought into his goofy, aw shucks facade.

    Quayle is a one man CFR, running the show, pulling the strings, man.

  • ||

    That sounds like the plot of My Fellow Americans, actually.

  • wef||

    More Thug State news. Ho hum. What would Lidsey Graham say?

  • Colonel_Angus||

    I used to make "liberty dollars" that were legal tender at keg parties. Whats the big deal? If the feds get to print all they want, so do I.

  • kingcherub||

    Yeah, but, are you one of, "the best and brightest"? Only those few elite are allowed to counterfeit.

  • Irresponsible Hater||

    Why did he put a denomination on them? Shouldn't it have just had it's weight stamped on it, next to the pretty lady?

  • Growlygus||

    Why do the government mints place a denomination on silver coins? No one, but a crack whore, would part with a silver coin at its face value.

  • ||

    I see the statists and their racist cheerleaders do not want currency competition.

  • ||

    If gold is evil, why does the govt want to confiscate it?

  • Paul||

    Same reason they want to confiscate your marijuana.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    To keep you from being seduced to the dark side by it's shiny luster and soft texture.

  • mjs||

    I probably need to RTFA, and I've probably been reading too much Cory Doctorow, but:

    How exactly does a "Liberty Dollar" differ that much from say "gold" in MMORPGs like World of Warcraft? Or going back further, tokens that at an arcade?

  • Growlygus||

    You can't buy groceries at a market with a token. That's kinda important if your hungry.

    Now, if you handed a grocery clerk a gold or silver coin, I'm not sure what would happen. I suspect a Chinese grocery clerk at a local market in the Los Angles area would make change for you at your at coin's face value, stone faced. A white or Hispanic union grocery clerk, at a chain store, would probably get on the PA system and ask for the manager.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    I think that's one of the intriguing things about these. In a small-scale community these would actually work pretty well as currency because there's a presumption of trust involved. Fundamentally speaking, their use is not threat to the status quo at all because they wouldn't have much acceptance outside of relatively isolated areas.

  • Growlygus||

    Just the opposite Red Rocks. The Chinese merchant knows the silver coin has value no matter where he takes it. The white or Hispanic employee needs to figure out what buttons to push on cash register.

  • yonemoto||

    don't forget the japanese!

  • ||

    Presumably the Feds are going to crack down on the hippies selling Ithaca Hours up in Ithaca, NY next, right?

  • geeky hacker||

    Nah, the're going to go after BitCoin.

  • yonemoto||

    facecash!

  • Mr. FIFY||

    What the fuck does this matter to the SPLC? This isn't race-related.

    Oh, wait... EVERYTHING is race-related. I forgot.

  • Growlygus||

    "He very much exists in the world of the anti-government patriot movement, whatever he may say.

    I think he's against 3rd grade set theory.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    I forgot... it's only "hip" to be anti-government when Team Red is in charge of everything.

  • cynical||

    what

  • .||

    "He's playing on a core idea of the radical right, that evil bankers in the Federal Reserve are ripping you off by controlling the money supply," said Mark Potok, spokesman for the group. "He very much exists in the world of the anti-government patriot movement, whatever he may say. That's who his customers are."

    Some of the "evil bankers" in the Fed and other large banking institutions are Jewish, therefore anyone who is against their racket must also be anti-semitic and white supremicist - or so the SPLC would have everyone believe. I'm sure the bankers appreciate the misdirection.

  • omg||

    Why would the "liberty dollar" maker accept US dollars for liberty dollars, if he wasn't confident of the value US dollar?

    Personally I think the US dollar is completely doomed, but it does seem odd that he would be willing to make such an exchange.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    That's begging the question. He still had to operate within the confines of the established currency system to purchase the silver stock, machinery, and parts to make the coins. Just because he's offering an alternative doesn't mean he's thus obligated to extricate himself completely from the former system if he can't realistically do so.

    The fact that he is offering what these days could be considered a viable alternative, is why the SPLC sees him as a threat. No way in hell would they have put him on any of their commie "watch lists" if silver was trading at $8 an oz. At $38/oz, though, a 1 oz Liberty constitutes a more viable means of purchasing power when stacked against FRNs.

  • Cure ear infection||

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