Bernard von NotHaus
Bernard von NotHaus is the creator of the Liberty Dollar and co-founder of the Royal Hawaiian Mint Company. He created the Free Marijuana Church of Honolulu. Von NotHaus was convicted of counterfeiting in 2011, allegedly for the purpose of domestic terrorism.
According to the evidence introduced during his 2011 federal criminal trial in connection with his involvement with the Liberty Dollar, von NotHaus was the founder of an organization called the National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve and Internal Revenue Code, commonly known as NORFED and also known as Liberty Services. The FBI claimed that NORFED’s purpose was to mix Liberty Dollars into the current money of the United States and that NORFED intended for the Liberty Dollar to be used as current money in order to limit reliance on, and to compete with, United States currency.
Federal government raid and confiscation
- In September 2006 U.S. Mint informed Liberty Dollar users that federal prosecutors had determined that the circulation of the medallions is a federal crime.
- In 2007 about a dozen federal government agents seized nearly two tons of coins that featured the image of Ron Paul, a Texas congressman. They also took about 500 pounds of silver and 40 to 50 ounces of gold.
Arrest and conviction
In connection with the Liberty Dollar business, a federal grand jury brought an indictment against von NotHaus and three others in May 2009, and von NotHaus was arrested on June 6, 2009. Von NotHaus was charged under counterfeiting laws with one count of conspiracy to possess and sell coins in resemblance and similitude of coins of a denomination higher than five cents, and silver coins in resemblance of genuine coins of the United States in denominations of five dollars and greater, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 485, 18 U.S.C. § 486, and 18 U.S.C. § 371; one count of mail fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341 and 18 U.S.C. § 2; one count of selling, and possessing with intent to defraud, coins of resemblance and similitude of United States coins in denominations of five cents and higher, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 485 and 18 U.S.C. § 2; and one count of uttering, passing, and attempting to utter and pass, silver coins in resemblance of genuine U.S. coins in denominations of five dollars or greater, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 486 and 18 U.S.C. § 2.
On July 28, 2009, von NotHaus entered a plea of not guilty.
On March 18, 2011, after a 90 minute jury deliberation, von NotHaus was found guilty on various counts, including the making of "counterfeit coins" (resembling legal tender coins). Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, Anne M. Tompkins, described Bernard von NotHaus and the Liberty dollar as "a unique form of domestic terrorism” that is trying “to undermine the legitimate currency of this country.” The Justice Department press release quotes her as saying: “While these forms of anti-government activities do not involve violence, they are every bit as insidious and represent a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country".
According to the Associated Press:
- 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.
Actually, the word "dollar" and the dollar sign are not uniquely American. The word "dollar" has ancient origins, and the dollar sign was created for the Mexican peso. They are both used for many other national and privately-minted currencies today, and historically privately issued "dollars" were used within the territories of the U.S. itself. The conviction was appealed.
Although he was convicted in March 2011, the U.S. government has still not reached a sentencing decision for Von NotHaus. Since his trial, The New York Times has said that some people describe Von Nothaus as "the Rosa Parks of the constitutional currency movement." As of December 2013, he remains free pending sentencing.
He has appealed his conviction. Reemphasizing his contempt for the U.S. dollar, the appeal states:
- ...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. 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...the Liberty Dollars 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.
When asked about the government's motive for accusing him of terrorism, von NotHaus scoffed, "This is the United States government. It's got all the guns, all the surveillance, all the tanks, it has nuclear weapons, and it's worried about some ex-surfer guy making his own money? Give me a break!"
- "Defendant Convicted of Minting His Own Currency". Press release. Federal Bureau of Investigation. 18 March 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2011.
- Tom Lovett, "Local Liberty Dollar 'Architect' Bernard von NotHaus convicted," March 19, 2011, Evansville Courier & Press, at .
- Indictment, docket entry 3, May 19, 2009, case no. 5:09-cr-00027-RLV-DCK-1, United States v. Bernard von NotHaus et al., U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina (Statesville Div.).
- Waiver of Personal Appearance at Arraignment and Entry of Plea of Not Guilty, docket entry 36, July 28, 2009, case no. 5:09-cr-00027-RLV-DCK-1, United States v. Bernard von NotHaus et al., U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina (Statesville Div.).
- Mary Jane Skala, "Guilty on two counts," March 18, 2011, Coin World, at .
- Clarke Morrison, "Liberty Dollar creator convicted in federal court," March 19, 2011, Asheville Citizen-Times, at .
- Editorial, "A ‘Unique’ Form of ‘Terrorism’," March 20, 2011, The New York Sun, at 
- http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_liberty_dollars_raid#mwpphu-post-form[dead link]
- Lawrence Kinnaird (July 1976). "The Western Fringe of Revolution," The Western Historical Quarterly 7(3), 259.
- "Origin of Dollar Sign is Traced to Mexico", Popular Science 116 (2), 1930: 59, ISSN 0161-7370
- Florian Cajori (1993). A History of Mathematical Notations (Vol. 2), 15-29.
- Arthur S. Aiton and Benjamin W. Wheeler (May 1931). "The First American Mint", The Hispanic American Historical Review 11(2), 198 and note 2 on 198.
- Nussbaum, Arthur (1957). A History of the Dollar. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 56. "The foreign coins remained in circulation [in the United States], and the more important among them, especially the Spanish (including the Mexican) dollars, were declared by Congress on February 9, 1793, to be legal tender. The dollar sign, $, is connected with the peso, contrary to popular belief, which considers it to be an abbreviation of 'U.S.' The two parallel lines represented one of the many abbreviations of 'P,' and the 'S' indicated the plural. The abbreviation '$.' was also used for the peso, and is still used in Argentina."
- Riesco Terrero, Ángel (1983). Diccionario de abreviaturas hispanas de los siglos XIII al XVIII: Con un apendice de expresiones y formulas juridico-diplomaticas de uso corriente. Salamanca: Imprenta Varona, 350. ISBN 84-300-9090-8
- Bureau of Engraving and Printing. "'What is the origin of the $ sign?' in FAQ Library". Retrieved December 14, 2010.
- Private and Territorial Gold
- Private & Territorial Gold
- Tucker, Jeffrey (10 September 2013). "Bernard von NotHaus: The ‘Domestic Terrorist’ You Can Call a Hero". Laissez Faire Club Today. Laissez Faire Books. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
- Bernard von NotHaus Seeks Acquittal, New Trial » Titania - the Open Source Ethical Society
- Feuer, Alan. "Prison May Be the Next Stop on a Gold Currency Journey". The New York Times (Malibu, California). Archived from the original on December 17, 2012.