Collectors may legally buy, sell and own all forms of Liberty
Dollars as long as they do not attempt to pass them as current money,
a federal official said April 12.
Some collectors had voiced concern over the metallic and paper
Liberty Dollars in their personal collections following the March 18
conviction of Liberty Dollar founder Bernard von NotHaus on
counterfeiting and other federal charges.
A representative for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte,
N.C., April 12 assured collectors that the copper, gold, silver and
platinum Liberty Dollars and paper warehouse receipts formerly backed
by silver are legal to buy, sell and trade as long as they are not
passed as current U.S. money.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office representative said federal officials
will not seek to confiscate any Liberty Dollars nor seek prosecution
of any individuals who own them unless they violate the federal
statutes for which von NotHaus was convicted in March and is awaiting
sentencing while free on bond.
“... mere possession of Liberty Dollars is not a violation,”
according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office representative. “However, if
the holder of the Liberty Dollar coin attempts to put such coin into
circulation, or passes and utters the coin, or attempts to use the
coin in commerce, barter or trade, then they have violated the law.”
Hundreds of examples of the various Liberty Dollar items created
by the Liberty Dollar’s monetary architect, Bernard von NotHaus, are
offered for sale at any given time by private sellers online over the
eBay auction site and elsewhere.
Paper warehouse receipts were never part of the government’s
prosecution nor was electronic currency, even though certificates were
among items seized by federal authorities in 2007.
Liberty Dollars have been issued since 1998 in different sizes and
metals and bearing different designs. One of the last designs released
depicts 2008 presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.
A comprehensive historical and illustrative account of the Liberty
Dollar can be found online at http://sites.google.com/site/libertydollarencyclopedia/.
The site is maintained by collector Ron Goodger, who also sells pieces
via eBay (http://stores.shop.ebay.com/Rons-NORFED-Silver-Libertys).
Von NotHaus, who in recent years has referred to the Liberty
Dollar as a “private voluntary barter currency,” was convicted March
18 following a jury trial in U.S. District Court for the Western
District of North Carolina in Statesville of fabricating, possessing
and marketing his own coins to compete with U.S. currency.
On March 31, attorneys for von NotHaus filed motions seeking to
have the court overturn his conviction on charges of making coins
resembling and similar to United States coins; of issuing, passing,
selling and possessing Liberty Dollar coins; of issuing and passing
Liberty Dollar coins intended for use as current money; and of
conspiracy against the United States.
He is also seeking the return of more than $7 million in gold,
silver and copper Liberty Dollars, stored silver backing warehouse
receipts and other property seized in FBI raids of locations in Couer
d’Alene, Idaho; Asheville, N.C.; and Evansville, Ind., where Liberty
Dollar operations were headquartered. Among the claims for seeking
acquittal is that the federal government’s evidence was insufficient
to support the verdict that the Liberty Dollars were counterfeits of
United States coins “and the criminal intent element of the crimes charged.”
The government filed its 19-page response April 7 in opposition to
von NotHaus’ post-conviction motions.
Von NotHaus remains free on bond pending sentencing. He faces up
to 15 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on the
count related to distributing the coins for use as money, and a
sentence of five years and fines of $250,000 on counts related to
making the coins and the conspiracy charge.
On April 4, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Voorhees resumed the
March 18 portion of the trial devoted to the forfeiture of the seized
property to determine whether the government should retain the
property, or if there are “innocent” third parties who claim ownership rights.
As of April 14, Judge Voorhees had not issued a ruling.
Von NotHaus created the Liberty Dollar in 1998 with the creation
of NORFED (National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve
and the Internal Revenue Code).
Von NotHaus developed the Liberty Dollar as an alternative
“inflation-proof” currency to the American dollar, which he claimed
has devalued since the Federal Reserve was established in 1913.
Von NotHaus dissolved the nonprofit entity in early December 2006,
but quickly reinvented the promotion of the private currency under the
name Liberty Services, doing business as Liberty Dollar.
The FBI began investigating the Liberty Dollar operations
beginning in 2005 in Asheville, N.C., leading up to the November 2007
raids by the FBI and Secret Service.
Von NotHaus, an independent distributor known as a regional
currency officer, and two former Liberty Services employees were
indicted in May 2009, and arrested the following month.
William Kevin Innes, the regional currency officer in Asheville,
and the two former Liberty Services employees, Sarah Jane Bledsoe and
Rachelle L. Moseley, face trial in May on charges associated with the
Bledsoe and Moseley are out on bond, while Innes, a Canadian
national, has been in federal custody in North Carolina since his June
2, 2009, arrest.
On July 31, 2009, von NotHaus shut down Liberty Services Inc. in
Evansville, Ind., pending resolution of the criminal charges. ■