creator convicted in
13:58 GMT, Mar. 19, 2011|
The leader of a group that marketed a fake currency called Liberty Dollars in the Asheville area and elsewhere has been found guilty by a federal jury of conspiracy against the government in a case of “domestic terrorism.”
Bernard von NotHaus was convicted Friday at the conclusion of an eight-day trial in U. S. District Court in Statesville. The jury deliberated less than two hours, according to the Department of Justice.
Charges remain pending against William Kevin Innes, an Asheville man who authorities said recruited merchants in Western North Carolina willing to accept the “barter” currency, according to court records. Innes was indicted along with von NotHaus in 2009.
“Attempts to undermine the legitimate currency of this country are simply a unique form of domestic terrorism,” U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins said. “While these forms of anti-government activities do not involve violence, they are every bit as insidious and represent a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country.”
The case was investigated by the FBI, Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Secret Service with help from the U.S. Mint.
“We are determined to meet these threats through infiltration, disruption and dismantling of organizations which seek to challenge the legitimacy of our democratic form of government,” Tompkins said.
Von NotHaus, 67, faces up to 25 years in prison during sentencing, which hasn’t been scheduled. The government also is seeking the forfeiture of about 16,000 pounds of Liberty Dollar coins and precious metals valued at nearly $7 million.
According to court documents, von NotHaus founded the National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve and Internal Revenue Code in Evansville, Ind., in 1998, and developed the Liberty Dollar. He touted the silver medallions as an inflation-proof alternative to official currency.
The coins were marked with the dollar sign, the words “dollar,” “USA,” “Liberty,” “Trust in God” (instead of “In God We Trust”) and other features associated with legitimate U.S. coins.
A 2007 affidavit said more than 70 businesses in the Asheville area agreed to accept the Liberty Dollar. Innes held the title of North Carolina regional currency officer and was one of three members of the group’s executive committee, an indictment states.
The charges against Innes include passing coins resembling genuine U.S. coins and intended for use as money, mail fraud and possession Liberty Dollar coins with intent to defraud. Authorities said when he was arrested that he faces up to 45 years in prison.
Despite warnings from the federal government, Innes told the Citizen-Times in 2006 that Liberty Dollars were legal.
“One of the first things I did when I started this in Asheville was to go to the police and tell them what I was doing,” he said.
Federal agents raided von NotHaus’ company headquarters in 2007 and seized documents and precious metals. A private mint in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, that produced the coins was raided the same day.
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