Whether you agree or disagree with competitive currencies, one must admit that the ongoing case against Bernard von Nothaus deserves much more attention than it has received over the past several years.
Bernard von Nothaus is the founder of the Liberty Dollar, a voluntary currency that consists of minted silver coins and paper certificates fully backed by silver.
In November of 2007 the FBI raided the Liberty Dollar warehouses. Bernard said in an email newsletter, “I sincerely regret to inform you that about 8:00 this morning a dozen FBI and Secret Service agents raided the Liberty Dollar office in Evansville. For approximately six hours they took all the gold, all the silver, all the platinum and almost two tons of Ron Paul Dollars that where just delivered last Friday. They also took all the files, all the computers and froze our bank accounts.”
That’s right, they seized everything
and auctioned it off [See correction] without even disclosing what law had been broken to warrant such action. Worse yet, the property that was stolen from the warehouses was not the property of Liberty Dollar. It was the property of all those individuals who held warehouse receipts for that silver. Bernard said in his email newsletter to Liberty Dollar customers, “It is obvious that they don’t understand how a warehouse receipt program works. Except for my personal account at Sunshine, none of the confiscated material at Sunshine Mint was my property. It was YOURS! ”
He also went on to say that no crimes had been committed. “Owning gold and silver in any form is not illegal! Over 500,000 individual legal binding warehouse receipts have been issued over the past ten years. Over 25,000+ individuals have visited our site and gotten Liberty Dollars. Neither you nor I are guilty.
Nor did you violate Title 18, Section 486 either. Even US Mint Director Edmond C. Moy acknowledged in a letter to a US Senator that the paper warehouse receipts were not illegal. Section 486 only concerns “use” in metal form. You were not even using the gold and silver. Your property, your metal was stored in the warehouse. You are not guilty. You are a victim!”
For the next few years, Liberty Dollars continued to be minted and the government continued to inject itself into the scene from time to time, with raids and questioning in small town America where Liberty dollars were being used. “In at least on one occasion, when the merchant said they had a Liberty Dollar, the officer stated that it was “contraband” and “asked” that it be turned over to them. Which the merchant did! Without a receipt or fair market compensation, the merchant’s property was stolen! All this without the “officer” identifying himself or serving a search or seizure warrant! “, said another newsletter from von Nothaus.
Long story short…
In May of 2009 a federal grand jury brought an indictment against von Nothaus and 3 others for alleged counterfeiting. In June of 2009 Bernard, along with 3 others were arrested.
On March 18, 2011, after a 90 minute jury deliberation, von NotHaus was found guilty on various counts, including the making of “counterfeit coins” (resembling legal tender coins). Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, Anne M. Tompkins, described Bernard von Nothaus and the Liberty dollar as “a unique form of domestic terrorism” that is trying “to undermine the legitimate currency of this country.” The Justice Department press release quotes her as saying: “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”.
That day Bernard sent out his newsletter with the following statement. “I sincerely regret to inform you that I was found guilty on all four counts regarding the Liberty Dollar in less than an hour on Friday, March 18. …I am very sorry our efforts to return America to value failed.”
GATA (Gold Anti-Trust Action Committe), who later would come to work with von Nothaus’ defense team summed it up this way. “Bernard von NotHaus, creator of the Liberty Dollar, was convicted in March in federal court in North Carolina of three federal felonies related to his issuance of a private currency in gold and silver. The prosecutor claimed that the U.S. Constitution gives the U.S. government exclusive power to mint any type of coin or paper to be used as money. And though the Liberty Dollar coins were not imitations of U.S. coins, von NotHaus also was charged with counterfeiting and conspiracy.” Read the full article
After the conviction, buzz surrounding the case attracted some of the brightest and most dedicated Sound Money supporters and attorneys in the country. William J. Olson and Herbert Titus of Washington DC took the case.
In May of 2011 GATA (Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee) joined the fight. GATA was organized in the fall of 1998 to expose, oppose, and litigate against collusion to control the price and supply of gold and related financial instruments.
In support of von Nothaus’ motion for a dismissal or a new trial, his lawyers submitted a 13 page document requested permission to submit an amicus “friend-of-the-court” legal brief on behalf of the non-profit GATA. The court was not required to grant such a request but allowed the amicus brief to be submitted. This was only the second time that such action was permitted by a North Carolina court.
Within two weeks, the 41 page Amicus Brief was filed with Judge Voorhees.
May 31, 2011-First Amicus Brief
The DOJ fired back with an extremely strong response with the court within two weeks.
June 10, 2011- DOJ Response
Barnard’s defense team again asked the court for permission to file a Second Amicus Brief to rebut the DOJ response and the court agreed! This was unprecedented and speaks the gravity of the courts decision on this case.
Within three days a second amicus brief was filed at the request of GATA in my behalf. von Nothaus said, “The Brief was 19 pages of pure dynamite! Certainly, it is the best-written, well-researched work in defense of my Liberty Dollar case”.
June 17, 2011- Second Amicus Brief
I’ve read all both amicus briefs as well as the DOJ’s response in this case. I must say that Bernard is right. The documents are without doubt present some of the most compelling information in defense of our constitutional rights to use gold and silver coinage in private barter.
Bernard von Nothaus continues to write his newsletters and is awaiting his day in court, if he gets it.
In March of 2012 Bernard wrote in his newsletter, “March 18, 2012 – the first year anniversary of my conviction came and went. And while no action has been taken by the court, that should not be confused that nothing is happening. And while, there is no way to know what is happening, there is no doubt that Judge Voorhees has received a lot of letters:). The Liberty Dollar case continues to be one of the most unique cases and your supporting letters are a key indicator of that uniqueness.”
If you would like to subscribe to his newsletter to stay on top of this case as it develops you can sign up here.
Another very interesting article about the Liberty Dollar and it’s current state of legality was published over at CoinWorld back in August of 2011.
Liberty Dollars held by collectors may be subject to seizure as contraband by federal law enforcement, officials with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Secret Service said Aug. 24.
Statements by officials for those two federal law enforcement agencies seem to reverse the position taken in comments released from the United States Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, N.C., and published in Coin World in April, that mere possession of Liberty Dollars did not constitute a violation of any federal statute.
That position has apparently changed, although officials of the U.S. Secret Service — which would be the federal agency likely charged with executing any possible seizures — would not provide any definitive comments concerning under what circumstances Liberty Dollars would be seized.
The revised stance is tied to the Liberty Dollar being determined in a federal court to violate federal counterfeiting statutes. Liberty Dollars were privately promoted as a form of currency that could be used in commerce as an alternative to Federal Reserve notes.
 – notified about this error by Bernard von Nothaus via email.