Federal trial opens for Liberty Dollar founder

Published : 03/28/11
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Trial began March 8 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina in Statesville, where Bernard von NotHaus — creator of the Liberty Dollar — is being prosecuted on three criminal charges related to counterfeiting.

In a March 6 e-mail to his supporters, Von NotHaus defined the case as an “epic battle … one lone stubborn individual American vs. the might and fright of the U.S. government.”

He added, “The lines are clearly drawn between an individual’s freedom, to come up with creative ways, such as barter to deal with government mismanagement of our economy and its continued nullification of our Constitution.”

Von NotHaus founded the National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve Act and Internal Revenue Code, or NORFED, in 1998. He worked with merchants to accept his private barter currency, Liberty Dollars, as payment. NORFED was later renamed Liberty Services.

Liberty Dollars were produced as both precious metal and copper rounds bearing a face value and as gold and silver certificate warehouse receipts.

The federal government alleges that Von NotHaus, with three other defendants, worked together to violate the law by making Liberty Dollars the government characterizes as “coins” of silver “intended for use as current money” and “in resemblance of genuine coins of the United States ...”

Von NotHaus was federally indicted on May 19, 2009, on three counts involving counterfeiting, and he requested that he be tried separately from his co-defendants.

The U.S. Mint posted a consumer alert about NORFED on its Web site on Sept. 13, 2006, stating that using the Liberty Dollar as currency violates federal law.

A jury composed of nine men and three women, seated March 8, will determine von NotHaus’ guilt or innocence.

U.S. Assistant Prosecutor Craig Morenao, in opening statements, said the government would set out to prove that von NotHaus deliberately told people to give Liberty Dollars as change for Federal Reserve notes, in direct violation of laws that specifically prohibit the use of passing originally designed coins as current money.

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