Feds go after wacky 'Liberty Dollars'

Prosecutors argued that the privately produced coins were too similar to legal US currency.

By Kim Peterson Apr 4, 2011 2:08PM
Credit: © Alan Marler/AP
Caption: Kevin Innes, regional currency officer for Liberty Dollars, holds a group of Liberty Dollar notesIt's perfectly fine to issue private currency in the United States, and that currency can be bartered, exchanged or used as payment in transactions. Entire communities have experimented with private currency, and several businesses in Detroit began accepting new Detroit Cheers bills instead of official money in 2009.

But when your private currency starts to resemble real money, federal prosecutors get very interested. And when your currency looks and feels like a real coin and says "Twenty Dollars" and "$20" on it, that's when the feds take action.

The maker of silver Liberty Dollars, Bernard von NotHaus, 67, was convicted last month for making and selling the private currency in the form of notes and coins, The Associated Press reports. And now the government wants to seize his stash of five tons of the silver dollars and precious metals, estimated at $7 million.

The question now is whether the maker of the Liberty Dollars tried to pass off the medallions as U.S. currency. The Constitution says that only Congress has the power to coin U.S. money and that only the U.S. Mint can mint and issue legal coins.

Van NotHaus' medallions had the words "Liberty," "Dollars" and "Trust in God" on them and showed such images as the Statue of Liberty's head and a flaming torch. They were advertised as "legal" and "constitutional," according to the U.S. Mint. People called the U.S. Mint asking whether the money was real, prompting the Mint to issue warnings that the dollars were privately produced.

Van NotHaus has claimed repeatedly that he never tried to pass the dollars off as real currency. He says he wanted to give local communities a transactional network based on an alternative, private currency. The medallions were reportedly made at a private mint in Idaho.

Private currencies are fine, but Liberty Dollars skirted too closely to the edge of legality. After his conviction, Van NotHaus faces up to 25 years in prison and a fine of $750,000, AP reported. He hasn't been sentenced yet.

Apr 4, 2011 10:06PM
Feds seizing private citizens money - (weight of silver)  you mean, like when they bailed out the thieves of wall street.  You mean like where the country and its banks were too big to fail - so all the funds landed in the laps of 1% of the people. 

Gee, why am I not surprised?  

He should be given time to melt his stock and recast them and comply with the law.  But this  nation's leaders have become the lawless, so what are his chances?

The feds covet the dust on  your head. 

Apr 4, 2011 6:16PM

Hmmm...   He should have named his silver tokens Republicans, and his paper Democrats...


Which would you accept as payment?  But then again he probably would not have printed nearly as many Democrats as helicopter Ben...


Our government is truely corrupt...



Apr 5, 2011 7:23AM
Wow. Leave the guy alone and his silver. Federal Government has become a protection agency like the Mafia for the Elite. No doubt they'll take his Silver and bail out another bank or rich oil executive.
Apr 5, 2011 6:48AM
Doesn't this guy know that the Fed and Federal Gov are the only ones allowed to print money out of thin air and call it something of real value?  I guess they didn't like the competition.  Glad they stole his real money (silver).  I wonder why?  Oh ya, they are broke.
Apr 5, 2011 8:43AM
Fed - why not just rip out his eyeballs while your at it? 
Pillage his Farm, Rape is daughter, that will teach em'
Its good to be the King........errrr Fed.

Apr 5, 2011 10:02AM
One major problem is the question of whether or not the currency and coins actually issued by the U. S. Mint has any real value or not.   Live long and prosper !!!

it's time for a revolution. we have been jewed and screwed by the fed long enough.



Apr 5, 2011 10:16AM
The Fed's grip is choking this country.
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