Precious Metals

Liberty Dollar founder seeks judgment

Bernard von NotHaus claims his Liberty Dollar medallions were not meant to be confused with circulating U.S. coinage or be considered current money. Von NotHaus has been awaiting sentencing on a 2011 conviction on counterfeiting and related charges associated with the Liberty Dollar.

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Convicted two years ago of counterfeiting and other federal charges associated with the Liberty Dollar, “monetary architect” Bernard von NotHaus is now seeking a judgment of acquittal or a new trial.

Noell P. Tin, von NotHaus’ court-appointed attorney, filed 26 pages of court documents March 25 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina in Statesville, the same court in which von NotHaus was convicted on March 18, 2011.

Von NotHaus has remained free on bond since his conviction following an eight-day jury trial for 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.

Awaiting sentencing

Von NotHaus has been awaiting sentencing by U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Voorhees since the March 18, 2011, conviction.

Von NotHaus founded the National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve Act, or NORFED, to create and circulate the Liberty Dollar as a private voluntary barter currency. NORFED produced its first Liberty Dollars in 1998.

NORFED was dissolved as an entity in December 2006 by von NotHaus, with the business renamed Liberty Services.

Liberty Dollars were typically manufactured as .999 fine silver rounds (some were composed of copper and some of gold) and as paper warehouse receipts in denominations of $1, $5, $10 and $20. The paper Liberty Dollars were backed by silver, and the silver rounds were minted by the private Sunshine Mint in Idaho.

Von NotHaus has repeatedly emphasized that Liberty Dollars were made to circulate as “private voluntary barter currency” and were not intended to be mistaken for United States legal tender.

The federal government, acting on a complaint, saw things differently.

After an investigation, FBI and Secret Service agents on Nov. 14, 2007, raided Liberty Services’ headquarters in Evansville, Ind., seizing more than $7 million in bullion, computer records and equipment used to manufacture Liberty Dollars. Dies, blanks, bullion and records were also seized from the Sunshine Mint.

The fate of the seized materials still remains undecided.

Acquittal or new trial

According to the court documents Tin filed March 25, 2013, on von NotHaus’ behalf, “if anything is clear from the evidence presented at trial, it is that the last thing Mr. von NotHaus wanted was for Liberty Dollars to be confused with coins issued by the United States government.”

“His intention — to protest the Federal Reserve system — has always been plain,” according to the court documents. “The jury’s verdict conflates a program created to function as an alternative to the Federal Reserve system with one designed to deceive people into believing it was the very thing Mr. von NotHaus was protesting in the first place.

“Whatever one’s opinion about the merit of value-based currency, the fact remains that the Liberty Dollar was not a counterfeit and was not intended to function as such. The verdict is a perversion of the counterfeiting statutes and should be set aside.”

Von NotHaus claims in court documents that throughout NORFED’s existence, he was advised by legal counsel that the Liberty Dollar did not violate federal statutes.

“He was also aware that representatives of the Federal Reserve, the United States Mint, the United States Secret Service, and other organizations had examined the Liberty Dollar and found that it was not a counterfeit for United States currency,” according to the March 25, 2013, court documents.

It is also argued in the court documents that the Liberty Dollar medallions presented to the jury that eventually convicted von NotHaus “do not have what coins are statutorily required to have and do not look like United States coins.”

“The name Mr. von NotHaus chose, NORFED, was chosen in order to make it clear that the Liberty Dollar did not come from the United States government,” according to court documents. “While the Liberty Dollar did feature an image of Lady Liberty, it was an image that Mr. von
NotHaus personally designed in 1992 for the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Midway. That Liberty image was never used on any coin issued by the U.S. Mint.”

Design elements of the Liberty Dollar also changed over the years they were issued, with none of the changes suggesting a similarity to U.S. coins, according to court documents.

Court documents can be found at ¦

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