US Coins

Judge sentences Liberty Dollar founder to probation

Liberty Dollar founder Bernard von NotHaus was sentenced to three years probation Dec. 2 from his 2011 conviction on charges involving the production and distribution of the private voluntary barter currency. Shown is a silver 2005 Liberty Dollar.

Liberty Dollar images courtesy of Ron Goodger /

A federal judge in North Carolina Dec. 2 sentenced Bernard von NotHaus, creator of the Liberty Dollar private voluntary barter currency, to three years probation for his 2011 conviction on charges the Liberty Dollar violates federal counterfeiting statutes.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Voorhees in Statesville sentenced von NotHaus, who is 70 years old, to three years probation on each of the three counts for which a jury found him guilty on March 19, 2011. The sentences are to run concurrently. Von NotHaus was also sentenced to six months house arrest.

Von NotHaus had faced up to 22 years in federal prison, the maximum penalty sought by federal prosecutors. On Nov. 10, Judge Voorhees rejected von NotHaus’s appeal to have the conviction set aside.

Von NotHaus was convicted by a jury “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.”

Von NotHaus, the self-described “monetary architect” behind the Liberty Dollar, founded the National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve Act, or NORFED, to create and circulate the Liberty Dollar. NORFED produced its first Liberty Dollars in 1998. 

Von NotHaus dissolved NORFED as an entity in December 2006 and renamed the business Liberty Services.

Liberty Dollars were typically manufactured as .999 fine silver rounds (though some were struck in copper and others in gold) and as paper certificates 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.

According to von NotHaus, Liberty Dollars were made to circulate as “private voluntary barter currency” and were never intended to be mistaken for United States legal tender. However, the federal government, acting on a complaint, saw things differently, seizing Liberty Service assets in 2007, which included millions of dollars in Liberty Dollars owned by von NotHaus’s customers.

The civil forfeiture proceedings involving the seized property are ongoing.

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