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Creator of ‘Liberty Dollars’ Fights Forfeiture of Coins, Silver

By Bill Morlin on June 12, 2012 - 2:55 pm, Posted in Antigovernment

A 68-year-old antigovernment activist who is facing prison for minting his own currency is now seeking a new trial while opposing the federal government’s attempt to seek forfeiture of $7 million in coins and silver bars.

Bernard von NotHaus, convicted by a jury 15 months ago of violating federal counterfeiting laws, is successfully delaying his sentencing by claiming his 92-year-old mother owns some of the precious metals seized during the criminal investigation of his counterfeiting operation.

Von NotHaus faces up to 15 years in federal prison after being convicted in Statesville, N.C., in March 2011 of counterfeiting and passing counterfeit coins, making and passing coins resembling genuine U.S. coins, and conspiracy.

Since that conviction, von NotHaus has been out of jail, and recently was allowed to move from California to Florida. He has hired and fired several lawyers, causing further legal delays in his sentencing.

A sentencing date has not been set. U.S. District Judge Richard Voorhees of the Western District of North Carolina is considering various legal issues.

In his latest move, von NotHaus filed legal papers with the court on May 21, claiming his mother, Mary “Suzy” Nothhouse of Estero, Fla., owns 16,000 ounces of silver bars purchased in 2005 from Sunshine Minting Inc. in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The silver bars were among an estimated $7 million worth of silver and coins – eight tons – seized in 2007 by the FBI.

Items at the private mint in Idaho included “Tea Party” and “Ron Paul” dollars being promoted by von NotHaus through his National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve Act (NORFED), court documents say.

Mary Nothhouse is a retired swimming instructor who says in court documents she was often paid “a quarter per lesson” and “frugally saved her money,” eventually investing in silver being sold by her son.

Her raw silver – 16 bars weighing 16,000 ounces and worth an estimated $464,000 at today’s prices – was being held in a “safekeeping account” at the Sunshine Mint, where her son was having his various coins minted, Nothhouse says in the court documents. Mary Nothhouse claims she owns 15,000 ounces of the silver bars and her other son, Robert Nothhouse, owns 1,000 ounces. “I am the legal owner of all this silver,” Mary Nothhouse says.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Ascik filed a legal response on Friday, rebutting von NotHaus’ claim. His latest motion delaying his sentencing “adds little or nothing to what was already in evidence” in the seven-year-old case, Ascik wrote.

In criminal cases in which the government seeks forfeiture of assets, their connection to the crimes of conviction must be determined by the court “without regard to any third party’s interest in the property,” Ascik said.

“Bernard von NotHaus did not have standing to assert the ownership interests of Mary and Robert Nothhouse in this criminal case,” the federal prosecutor said.  They “will have adequate remedies at law to assert their ownership interests if and when the court renders its verdict making a finding that the raw silver is ‘subject to forfeiture,’” Ascik wrote in the response motion.

Although his brother and mother are supposedly “real parties” of interest in his latest legal maneuver, von NotHaus did not include a “verification or attestation” from either Mary or Robert Nothhouse. “Thus, it cannot be known whether they agree with the motion or are even aware that they have been put forth as interested parties,” Ascik said.

Bernard von NotHaus has long been at odds with the government, from handing out marijuana to be smoked at “religious services” to minting and selling his own coins – accepting Federal Reserve notes for the purchases, of course.

The self-described “monetary architect” contends that if the U.S. government can print coins and currency and distribute them through the Federal Reserve system, he can, too, through his own network of sales representatives.

He began producing his “Liberty Dollars” in 1998 when he lived in Hawaii and worked at the private Honolulu Mint. His organization, initially formed as a tax-exempt nonprofit, later changed its name to Liberty Services.

Later, he moved its operations to Evansville, Ind., where he teamed with James W. Thomas, publisher of Media Bypass, a now-defunct magazine popular with antigovernment “Patriots” and sovereign citizens.

  • Ed

    @Eirka If it was fraud, I imagine the government would charge him with fraud. The counterfeiting charge is flimsy at best; so I am thinking there was a very low possibility of a fraud conviction. It seems prosecutors were desperate to get something on this guy.

    So in 2006 the Mint notified Bernard von Nothaus to stop minting and circulating his coins. Then in 2007 the Mint began making Presidential Dollars. The case against Mr. Bernard von Nothaus then comes about because his coins are supposedly similar to those newly minted coins from the Mint. This seems like entrapment to me; counterfeiting charge is flimsy at best, like I said.

    Whether or not the coins are similar is not the issue. The issue is the representations made during the coins’ circulation. Mr. von Nothaus is not accused of representing his coins as legal tender. The coins are only as that which they appear to be, an object of art reminiscent of a once great nation, which may be traded in such ways that people may exchange when bartering.

    It seems there is nothing improper in the actions of von Nothaus, though the jurors’ imaginations turn towards the palming off of coins on the unknowing. The prosecution uses the issue of similarity as a side show to distract the jurors from the real issues. Even if an unknowing person would receive the coin, they are not defrauded if Mr. von Nothaus makes good on promises for monetary exchange. If not for the actions of the government, Mr. von Nothaus would have been able to continue to make good on his promises.

  • jone jane

    This was a man trying to help people protect their hard work and savings….. by producing silver coins that would appreciate in value instead of falling in value like the paper in everybodys wallet and the electronic numbers on your bank statement. He offered people the option to buy silver coins and either keep the coins; keep paper promises for the silver(for storage sake) or redeem your liberty dollars or notes for their value in silver depending on the price of silver at the time. Any one who bought silver through liberty is gaurenteeded to profit in the long run as long as they hold it as a long term protection against inflation. Research our money system (paper with no value that will end up with the rest of paper money systems with a value of $0) and make your own analysis please DO NOT believe me look for your self. I can gaurentee our paper system will fail and soon so remember when your begging on the street for food to feed your family I will be stacking my liberty dollars and eating prime rib and sucking down $1000000000000000000000000000000 bottles of wine (or 1 oz of silver because the government printed in to oblivion) that used to cost $10000 if that made any sense. Good luck sheep the wolf might lead you out of the burner this time at least you better pray he does!!!!

  • Aron

    Rey, while it would be nice, I’m not quite sure this crime falls under the RICO statute. Ha!

  • Reynardine

    Krugerrands and sovereigns, as well as genuine old noble-metal U.S. coins, are or have been the lawful coins of sovereign nations. If this guy had sold his creations as plainly-labelled “jewelry”, there would be little or no problem, but by representing them as “currency” and then selling, not even physical possession of the “coins”, but a private scrip supposed to be redeemable by them- how do I charge thee? Let me count the ways! ¡Ay! ¡Que RICO!

  • Erika

    dustup, see its like this – when someone sells coins at above the face value of the metal it means one of the following

    A) that they have value beyond the value of the metal such as history, artistry, and/or rarity – generally this would involve antique coins. Some may be legal tender – however, the face value of the coin is much less than the collectors value (in those cases, the metal value is zero because it is illegal to melt down U.S. currency).

    There are also some collectable coins designed solely for the collectors market – genreally they are commorative coins. They are often sold as investment instruments in that the investor bets on the value of the materials (generally gold) to go up – but they are not intended as currency.

    B) that they are intended to be used as money. the value thus comes from the fact that it can be used for other goods. A new quarter is a legal example – the materials are worth less than 25 cents, but a quarter has a value set at 25 cents, so the price of a quarter is set by the face value.

    An illegal example is this – making his own currency which is supposedly backed by the silver coins (which were priced above monetary value – but since the buyer did not actually receive the coins there was no collectors or investment value) – however, the value was above the value of the value of the metal.

    Unlike the metal speculators and coin collectors, these silver coins have no value other than monetary value (which is almost useless because they are not legal tender) – hence, that is why it is illegal.

  • Aron

    Dustup, they were not being sold as investment instruments. They were being sold as an alternative currency. And that dog won’t hunt.

  • dustup

    Folks…….You do know that the coins he was selling were made of the purest of silver…..right? That being said how was he hurting the US dollar or the US mint? If they weren’t made in the image of US coins, why was the government so upset? …..think about…..Gold Krugerrands, Gold Sovereigns, etc. ………they are sold in the US……

  • Sam Molloy

    Snorlax, the rattler is the prettier one.

  • Joseph

    The act itself was rooted in the belief that our money of worthless, federal reserve, rockefeller conspiracy, etc. I don’t like the federal reserve bank either, but personally, I wouldn’t mind having a little bit more of that “worthless money” so I can send my son to private school without tuition assistance. It’s the root of the evil that’s at issue, propaganda. We get a lot of debt disputes and correspondence from sovereign citizens, Republic of Texas, etc. Death threats, silver american eagles thrown at us, all kinds. Unfortunately, we can’t keep the eagles because we may need them as evidence. It’s all based in the same thing based in the posse comitatus (sic) I don’t have my dictionary, masons are trying to take over the world. I don’t know how masons are trying to take over the world, we can’t decide where to hold our annual christmas party, much less govern the world.

  • Erika

    antonio, was selling worthless “bills” supposedly backed by silver “coins” at vastly inflated prices.

    even if not classic counterfeiting, its still fraud.

  • Lewis Loflin

    What does this have to do with hate crimes?

  • Supersonic250

    …And that’s a bad thing? He was trying to undermine the federal government…. I’d say that’s pretty freakin’ illegal.

  • Antonio Lorusso

    Bernard was not trying to pass his coins off as federal currency. He created his own currency and the government used a technicality to prosecute him under laws designed to stop people create fake federal currency. Then labelled him a terrorist for doing so.

  • Snorlax

    Erika, lol.

    But how do you tell which one’s which, Bachmann or the rattler?

  • Karla


    Personally, I’d trust the rattlesnake rather than Meechelle.

  • Joseph

    Erica – you made me laugh.

  • Erika

    a good rule of thumb is that any coin with a picture of michelle bachmann on the face and a rattlesnake on the back is phony

  • Joseph

    OMG. I wonder what the coins looked liked. I was at a gunshow where they were selling copper coins with tea party stamps on them. Copper coins! My son didn’t even want one to collect it. I gotta tell you all, I see a lot of your points in these stories. I also see a lot of people, with a lot of money to apparantly throw away, complaining about the state of the economy. No agrument with you on this one.

  • CM

    His court filing reveals that he’s as phony as his “currency.” By changing his name from Nothhouse to von NotHaus, he’s making a claim of descent from the German nobility: “von” is a nobiliary particle like “de” in French and Spanish. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he’s bought into one of those self-styled chivalric orders that offer to sell knighthoods or principates to anyone with a little money and an excess of self-esteem.

  • Supersonic250

    Here’s hoping that no jury is gonna fall for this BS defense. Von NutHouse needs to be jailed as a lesson to others who would attempt this type of crap.

  • Ian

    Glenn Beck is right. These kinds of investments look totally reputable.

    As does the e-mail I just received from this nice young man from Nigeria.

  • Reynardine

    If he calls himself that, this can only be an expensive put-on.

  • Erika

    I’m sure that the fact that he no doubt accepted payment for his “coins” in Federal Reserve Notes didn’t help his case.