This is an interesting case.
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. dollar.
His Charlotte-based lawyer, Aaron 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.
“The prosecutors 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,” Michel wrote.
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.
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 are.”
Say what you want about alternative currencies and what not but… As for the idea that he’s is playing to fear of “evil bankers in the Federal Reserve are ripping you off by controlling the money supply.” Is this even arguable? Why can’t you play to people’s fear if they should be afraid. The Fed has spent the last 2 years monetizing our debt. This is evil, stupid, and guaranteed to devalue the currency, which is exactly von NotHaus’ point.
Don’t buy the coins, fine. But maybe you should be buying the precious metals.