Bernard von NotHaus
Bernard von NotHaus is the creator of the Liberty Dollar and co-founder of the Royal Hawaiian Mint Company, in Hawaii, U.S.A. He created the Free Marijuana Church of Honolulu. Von NotHaus was convicted of counterfeiting in 2011, allegedly for the purpose of domestic terrorism. Despite the seemingly serious nature of the charge against him and the demand of the Justice Department that he serve twenty-two years in Federal prison, von Nothaus was sentenced to only three years of probation, and was released from probation after serving only one year.
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.
This claim was repeated many times before, after and even during his trial, despite the fact that Liberty Dollars bore no physical resemblance to any currently issued current money of the United States. The silver round. the most popular form of Liberty Dollars, was made of one ounce of .999 fine silver, unlike any money issued by the government, and the Liberty Dollar certificates were made in different colors and sizes so as to be easily distinguished from current money.
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 as "legal tender" is a federal crime. This would have been true if any claim that they were legal tender had ever been made, but proponents of the Liberty Dollar were cautioned against making such a claim. Rather, they were told that it was an "item of barter," and could therefore lawfully be exchanged for other items in trade.
- 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. Von Nothaus and others sued the government on behalf of the many people who were the lawful owners of the silver and gold. Despite the 2011 conviction of Bernard von NotHaus on charges related to the manufacture and distribution of Liberty Dollars, U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Voorhees ruled in late 2014 that seized property not deemed as contraband should be returned pursuant to ownership claims.
In connection with the Liberty Dollar business, a federal grand jury brought an indictment against von NotHaus and three others in May 2009 accusing him of counterfeiting U.S. currency. Von NotHaus was arrested on June 6, 2009 and entered a plea of not guilty on July 28.
In at least one interview, von NotHaus had been quoted as saying: "We never refer to the American Liberty as a coin, nor as legal tender or current money.... The word ‘coin’ is a government-controlled term. This is currency that is free from government control."  [see also https://www.investopedia.com/terms/l/lawfulmoney.asp] 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.
He appealed his conviction but his appeal was denied on 10 November 2014.
On Nov 11th, 2014 Judge Voorhees denied von NotHaus' Motion for Acquittal. On December 2, 2014 he was sentenced to 6 months house arrest, with 3 years probation.As part of his reasoning for delivering a greatly reduced sentence from what Federal Prosecutors demanded, Judge Richard L. Voorhees stated:
- ...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.
The conviction, which was seen as a victory for the government, has now defined 18 U.S.C. § 486 as prohibiting the use of silver bullion, or any other metal coin or bar, from being used in commerce. The Silver Certificates issued by Liberty Services were not considered any form of counterfeiting or violation of law.
His probation officer suggested he file for early release from probation after one year, and recommended the early termination to the court. Termination of probation was formally granted December 9, 2015 by U.S. District Judge Richard L. Voorhees: http://www.libertydollarnews.org/2015dec/BVNH_pt.pdf
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 2, 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-21.
- "Defendant Convicted of Minting His Own Currency". Press release. Federal Bureau of Investigation. March 18, 2011. Archived from the original on March 21, 2011. Retrieved March 19, 2011.
- Tom Lovett, "Local Liberty Dollar 'Architect' Bernard von NotHaus convicted," March 19, 2011, Evansville Courier & Press, at .
- "Federal government to return millions in Liberty Dollars". Coin World. Retrieved 2018-10-01.
- 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.).
- Bill Morlin, "FBI raids seize dies, records in CdA [Coeur d'Alene]," Nov. 16, 2007, The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington), at .
- Mary Jane Skala, "Guilty on two counts," March 18, 2011, Coin World, at "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 21, 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-18. .
- 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 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 25, 2011. Retrieved April 3, 2011.
- https://web.archive.org/web/20110429231739/http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_liberty_dollars_raid. Archived from the original on April 29, 2011. Retrieved December 10, 2013. Missing or empty