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V14 2011 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 14, Number 39, September 18, 2011, Article 11

MORE ON POSSIBLE CONFISCATION OF STOLEN ERROR COINS

Regarding the recent arrest of a U.S. Mint employee for stealing (and reselling) error coins, Tom Wetter writes:

So now that these coins are designated as stolen, along with the oh-so-subtle tie in to Swift and the '33s, will the government begin to confiscate them? How about trying to sell one? And if not, would that set a precedence for the '33's that have been confiscated?

David Ganz published an article in Numismatic News on the legal ramifications. Here are some excerpts. -Editor

Dollar Coin Edge Arrest in New Jersey Sept. 9 of former U.S. Philadelphia Mint guard William Gray for theft of more than $2 million worth of numismatic $1 error coins sets the stage for the government to seek a stiff jail sentence. It also marks a new era in collecting, because the criminal information charging Gray seems to set a new standard for how some coins are legally issued by the Mint and may be legally acquired.

U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Paul Fishman held the press conference that announced the prosecution of Gray, who received about $75 for each error coin he purloined out of the Philadelphia Mint meaning that about 32,000 coins were removed, evidently over some period of time.

But the real story, which the daily media has yet to pick up on, is in the criminal "information" a claim of criminal activity that is usually superseded by an indictment coming from a empaneled grand jury is that the government believes that these error coins are illegal to own initially as well as in the secondary market.

Stripped of legal niceties, the viewpoint essentially is that there is no way that these coins could have left the Mint other than through illegal means, and hence lack the essential attribute of having been "monetized."

This new theory smacks of the recent prosecution to retrieve 1933 double eagles, and could well go beyond Presidential error coins lacking the "In God we Trust" motto on its edge and include any coin with a questionable history, including rarities such as the 1913 Liberty nickel, the 1804 silver dollar and a host of other coins.

I was afraid this would be the outcome. And the legal mess can only get messier from here. Be sure to read the complete article, available on NumisMaster.com. -Editor

To read the complete article, see: New Legal Standard in Mint Case? (www.numismaster.com/ta/numis/Article.jsp?ad=article&ArticleId=23748)

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: U.S. MINT EMPLOYEE STOLE AND SOLD ERROR COINS (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v14n38a11.html)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor at this address: whomren@gmail.com

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