5 April A.D. 2011
See highlighted paragraphs below.
The attorney is in good company. Before one gets one´s
mind around the reality, there are all kinds of things (A) that
still make sense and/or (B) that just don´t "register," yet.
Harmon L. Taylor
Tom Breen, Associated Press, On Monday April 4, 2011, 12:34
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Federal prosecutors
on Monday tried to take a hoard of silver "Liberty Dollars"
worth about $7 million that authorities say was invented by
an Indiana man to compete with U.S. currency.
Bernard von NotHaus, 67, was convicted
last month in federal court in Statesville on conspiracy and
counterfeiting charges for making and selling the currency,
which he promoted as inflation-proof competition for the U.S.
His Charlotte-based lawyer,
Michel, is appealing
that verdict. He wrote in a motion filed Thursday that von NotHaus
did nothing wrong because he didn´t try to pass the Liberty
Dollars off as U.S. dollars.
successfully painted Mr. von NotHaus in a false light and now
the U.S. Attorney responsible for the prosecution is painting
the case in a false light, saying that it establishes that private
voluntary barter currency is illegal,"
The trial was scheduled to resume Monday
in Statesville. The case involves more than five tons of Liberty
Dollars and precious metals seized from a warehouse, which the
government wants to take by forfeiture, according to federal
prosecutors and Michel.
Von NotHaus began issuing Liberty Dollars
in 1998, as head of the Evansville, Ind.-based National Organization
for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve and Internal Revenue Code.
In 2007, the group´s headquarters were raided along with the
Sunshine Mint in Coeur D´Alene, Idaho, where the coins were
made. The case is being tried in Statesville because one of
the organization´s top officers is based in Asheville, and because
an undercover investigator made contact with the group in North
Federal prosecutors successfully argued
that von NotHaus was, in fact, trying to pass off the silver
coins as U.S. currency. Coming in denominations of 5, 10, 20,
and 50, the Liberty Dollars also featured a dollar sign, the
word "dollar" and the motto "Trust in God," similar to the "In
God We Trust" that appears on U.S. coins.
"Attempts to undermine the legitimate
currency of this country are simply a unique form of domestic
terrorism," U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins said in a statement
after von NotHaus was convicted.
Von NotHaus has argued it´s not illegal
to create currency to privately trade goods and services. He
also has said his organization took pains to say the Liberty
Dollars shouldn´t be called "coins" and shouldn´t be presented
as government-minted cash. Among other benefits, Michel´s motion
argues, the Liberty Dollars were a means to help keep currency
in local communities by creating networks of merchants and consumers
who used the money.
Numerous cities and regions around the
country have experimented with local currency, but laws restrict
them from resembling U.S. bills or from being passed off as
money printed by the federal government.
The concerns raised by von NotHaus and
his group are finding resonance among some state lawmakers,
too. About a dozen states have legislation that would allow
them to produce their own currency backed by gold or silver
in the event of hyperinflation striking the U.S. dollar. North
and South Carolina are among those states.
That´s partly why von NotHaus´ group
has been followed for years by the Southern Poverty Law Center,
a group that tracks political extremism. Long before the government
began its investigation into von NotHaus, the group was raising
concerns about the popularity of Liberty Dollars among fringe
groups on the far right.
"He´s playing on a core idea of the radical
right, that evil bankers in the Federal Reserve are ripping
you off by controlling the money supply," said Mark Potok, spokesman
for the group. "He very much exists in the world of the anti-government
patriot movement, whatever he may say. That´s who his customers
Von NotHaus is currently free on bond.
If the conviction against him is upheld, he faces up to 25 years
in prison and a fine of $750,000. A sentencing date has not
been set yet.