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V17 2014 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 17, Number 50, December 7, 2014, Article 16

LIBERTY DOLLAR CREATOR BERNARD VON NOTHAUS SENTENCED

Liberty Dollar creator Bernard von NotHaus was finally sentenced this week. On Monday, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece by Seth Lipsky, Editor of the New York Sun. Here's an excerpt. -Editor

Tuesday morning at 9:30, a federal judge in North Carolina will gavel his court into session to pronounce a sentence on Bernard von NotHaus. A monetary gadfly in an age of fiat money, Mr. von NotHaus, 70, could be looking at the rest of his life in prison.

Nearly four years ago, a jury convicted Mr. von NotHaus of “uttering”—putting into circulation—coins of pure silver that he called Liberty Dollars. The government is also seeking the forfeiture of 16,000 pounds of coins and precious metals whose value it reckons at $7 million.

The federal prosecutor, Anne Tompkins, put out a news release stating that “attempts to undermine the legitimate currency of this country are simply a unique form of domestic terrorism” and “represent a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country.”

This is something to think about at a time when the China, the Europeans, the United Nations and various leaders of the World Bank are wondering whether we need a new or better reserve currency. And when Congress is fizzing with disquiet about the dollar.

Mr. von NotHaus suggests that likening him to a terrorist is absurd. “This is the United States government,” he told the New York Times two years ago. “. . . it has nuclear weapons, and it’s worried about some ex-surfer guy making his own money? Give me a break.”

To read the complete article, see:
A Monetary Gadfly in an Age of Fiat Money (http://online.wsj.com/articles/seth-lipsky-a-monetary-gadfly-in-an-age-of-fiat-money-1417478381)

There wasn't much coverage of the event in the press. I found this from a local Evansville, Indiana newspaper, where von NotHaus' organization was located. -Editor

A former Evansville businessman is sentenced to six months house arrest. Bernard von NotHaus was convicted in 2011 of counterfeiting charges for minting and distributing a form of private money called the Liberty Dollar. Authorities say von NotHaus created Liberty Dollar Services based in Evansville, to mint a currency he called the Liberty Dollar. It was supposed to rival the US dollar.

Von NotHaus had been facing up to 40 years in prison and the possible forfeiture of millions of dollars.

To read the complete article, see:
Liberty Dollar Founder von Nothaus Sentenced to House Arrest for Counterfeiting (www.tristatehomepage.com/story/d/story/liberty-dollar-founder-von-nothaus-sentenced-to-ho/17589/F7ET48RAY0yE7MuvzXcGwQ)

On December 3, 2014 The New York Sun published a follow-up. -Editor

Congratulations are in order to United States District Judge Richard Voorhees of North Carolina for the judiciousness of his decision in the case of Bernard von NotHaus. We weren’t personally present at the courthouse at Statesville, where von NotHaus had been ordered to appear Tuesday for sentencing on his conviction of uttering — introducing into circulation — his Liberty Dollars. But we were on tenterhooks, because von NotHaus, 70, was looking at the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison.

In the three and a half years since the jury reached its decision, Judge Voorhees allowed constitutional and procedural objections to be heard but in the end supported the jury. The government on Tuesday asked for a prison sentence of at least 14 years and as much as 17 ½ years. The government was also seeking forfeiture of some 16,000 pounds of Liberty Dollar coins and specie, which in 2011 it had valued at nearly $7 million.

Then spake the judge, sentencing von NotHaus to but six months of home detention, to run concurrently with three years of probation. He departed from non-binding guidelines because, he suggested, von NotHaus had been motivated not by criminal intent but by an intention to make a philosophical point. That is what these columns have been reporting for more than four years, and, while the Sun’s coverage played no part in the case, we are glad to discover that the judge is of a similar, if not identical, mind.

Von NotHaus is no doubt relieved that he doesn’t have to go to jail, but he has put out no statement. Our guess is that it is sinking in on him that he has been marked now as a felon, and his own dream of a parallel form of money, composed of constitutional specie, is gone. There may yet be surprises, but the sagacity of Judge Voorhees’s handling of this case lies in, among other elements, the fact that he has left no great incentive for either side to make an appeal.

To read the complete article, see:
Beyond Bernard von NotHaus (www.nysun.com/editorials/beyond-bernard-von-nothaus/88958/)

Liberty Dollar distributor card

von NotHaus This has been a loooong time coming. While I'm no fan of the hard money movement, I too agree with the decision. As I'd written back in March 2011: "While I don't disagree that Von NotHaus was basically running a scam, the government is a little over the top in their accusations. Terrorism? Really? Get a grip. "

Below is a related excerpt from December 23, 2012, when eBay and the Central States Numismatic Society banned Liberty Dollars from their venues.

There may be a small collector community for Liberty dollars, but no powerful hobby voices with a vested interest. But if Liberty Dollars are banned, what about other alternate currencies, past and present? Are Ithica Hours counterfeits? What about Nickolas Veeder's Eutopia dollars or Lewis Feuchtwanger's issues? They were proposed alternative coins, too.

Their issuers were never accused of counterfeiting like Liberty Dollar maker von Nothaus, of course. With his wink-wink-nudge-nudge marketing spiel he built a multilevel army of distributors and shovers who eagerly bought the coins at a discount and resold or spent them at a profit. It was a scam masked as a political statement, and deserved to be shut down. But it's not the coins' fault. Von Nothaus may end up in jail, but his coins shouldn't be imprisoned as well. They are now historical artifacts deserving of a place in numismatic collections.

liberty_dollar_group If you ask me, the prosecution's case against von Nothaus is like the tax-evasion gambit that put Al Capone behind bars. They couldn't get him on racketeering charges, but nailed him for tax evasion instead. With von Nothaus they couldn't find a crack in his free speech shield, but instead made a claim that his coins were counterfeits, even though they were no more likely to be mistaken for an official U.S. coin than a Chuck E. Cheese token. Seriously, do these look like counterfeits to you? I feel compelled to state that the above opinions are mine alone, and do not reflect a position of NBS.

The big question now is, "What next for von NotHaus?" Will he be given back the 16,000 pounds of Liberty Dollar coins and precious metals seized in the raid? If my friend J.S.G. Boggs' history is any guide, he won't. While never convicted of counterfeiting, money artist Boggs never again saw any of the artwork or personal property seized in the raid of his Pittsburgh studio.

And numismatically speaking, will Liberty Dollars be un-banned from eBay and the Central States shows? Have any other shows implemented such bans? -Editor

To read earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
LIBERTY DOLLAR CREATOR CONVICTED IN FEDERAL COURT (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v14n12a20.html)
LIBERTY DOLLAR FOUNDER VON NOTHAUS AWAITS HIS FATE (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v15n45a11.html)
CENTRAL STATES NUMISMATIC SOCIETY BANS LIBERTY DOLLARS (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v15n53a13.html)
DO LIBERTY DOLLARS DESERVE TO BE BANNED? (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v15n53a14.html)
LIBERTY DOLLAR CREATOR TO BE SENTENCED (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v17n47a27.html)



Wayne Homren, Editor

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The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at coinbooks.org.

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

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