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United States v. Bernard von NotHaus (BvNH) Case # 5:09-CR-00027

Written by Subject: Criminal Justice System
March 8, 2011 – Trial Day 1
Today began with a motion for continuance presented by the defense.  On Thursday of last week the prosecution gave the defense typed transcripts of audio tapes they had provided to them in discovery previously.  The motion was denied based on the fact that the defense had the audio tapes for nearly a year regardless of whether they had the transcripts.
What was brought up however is the fact that the prosecution served on the defense over 1.5 million pieces of discovery.  The prosecuting attorney admitted in open court some of the discovery was for cases other than the case against the defendant.
Now that appears to me to be “Abuse of Process” but the defense council seemed to feel that the prosecution was erring on the side of caution.  Really, over 1,500,000 pieces of discovery which would take an estimated 14 years to review.   Unfair tactics to say the least.
After the motion the jurors were brought into the court room and sat in the pews behind the audience.  55 in total some had come from more than 50 miles away.  16 were called forward and sat in the jury box while the prosecution presented them mostly with the same questions.
Do you work outside the home?
Are you married?
Does your spouse work outside the home?
Do you have any children?
Have you or any family member been charged with a crime?
Each juror was given the opportunity to explain any circumstances they felt might cause them to be impartial or cause them undue hardship with the trial lasting perhaps a month.  Some raised excuses but for the most part they seemed content to be there and my impression was they took this seriously, and knew it was their duty as Americans.  The prosecution dismissed two jurors, and they were replaced from the pool.
Once the prosecution was satisfied with the selection the defense began it’s questioning.  Defense council, Randal Lee, explained to the 16 candidates that this would be a case about the 1st amendment and Bernard’s right to express his political views by using money as a vehicle.  Congressman Ron Paul might testify, did anyone have any issue with his political views? And that it would be a case about the 2nd amendment.  Then he asked if anyone in the box had any objections with the 2nd amendment or with people keeping hand guns in their home.  Not one of the sixteen jurors raised their hand.  Nice, our constitution truly at work! I feel safer here already.
There was a bit of back and forth but in the end the jury that seated was a win for the defense.  It was what they had wanted, predominately middle age white conservative males and all supporters of the second amendment.  The jury was empanelled and then the Prosecution gave their opening statement.
Co Council for the Prosecution, Craig Randall, gave the opening statement.
He explained to the jury they would present an Expert Witness who will testify to how many points the Liberty Dollar has on it that resembles United States Currency.  Including the $ sign, the same denominations, the letters USA, the Statute of Liberty, Torch, and the words Trust in God.
They would present a Special Agent who went undercover and became a Liberty Dollar Associate working with Kevin Innes.
He focused the jury on the issue of intent, which in my opinion is a benefit to the defense.  The prosecution will have to prove that it was Bernard’s intent to counterfeit or pass counterfeit currency.  That will be very difficult because it was not the intent of Liberty Dollar, and their marketing efforts reflect that beyond a reasonable doubt.
Their case against Bernard is that he trained the associates to give the Liberty Dollars as change for US notes.  That Title 18 – 486 makes it illegal to use even an originally designed coin as current money.
He reiterated the Judges opening jury instruction that the Jury had to follow the law regardless of whether they felt the law was right or wrong.  Their job was to determine the facts and apply the law to them as it was given to them.  By repeating this issue the prosecution in the jury’s eyes may look like they are trying to enforce a law that is bad.  It was repeated several times, “You must apply the law to the facts whether you agree with the law or not”.  This is not a true statement as jury nullification is a deeply rooted tradition in the development of American Law.  Anyone can go to the Fully Informed Jury website to learn more about this very important aspect of our justice system.       
Witness #1 – FBI Special Agent Andrew Romagnolo (aka Agent Andy)
According to his testimony Agent Andy began his investigation of the Liberty Dollar in June of 2004.  A Statesville Bank called the FBI when a merchant customer attempted to deposit a Liberty Dollar into her account.  He contacted Scott Marion of the Secret Service who contacted Daniel Shaver, US Mint.  Agent Andy went to a merchant in Asheville, North Carolina who was purportedly accepting and was offering the Liberty Dollar for sale.  He purchased a $10 Liberty Dollar and a $5 Liberty Dollar.  At that time the $10 LD was a one ounce silver round.  He also received a list of merchants that would accept the Liberty Dollar in the Asheville area.  His research indicated that some of the people involved with the Liberty Dollar were also involved in another organization that he was investigating, The Sovereign Citizen movement.  Agent Andy had the $10 and the $5 Liberty sent to an FBI lab for testing.
 At this point in the investigation Agent Andy sent in an under cover agent to gather further information on the Liberty Dollar.  Agent Walsh was assigned to go under cover and join the Liberty Dollar Organization as an associate.  Walsh paid $250 for a welcome packet.  Prosecutions Exhibit 25 – 27 contains the contents of the welcome packet, 4 one ounce liberty dollars, several warehouse receipts for silver, and multiple marketing materials.
Agent Walsh signed up to attend the upcoming Liberty Dollar University hereafter “LDU7” which was to be held in Fletcher, NC, October 19 – 22, 2005.  Prosecutions Exhibit 17 – 23 contains all documents related to LDU7.  They include the welcome letter, syllabus, Salesmanship 101, How to approach a business with the Liberty Dollar, New RCO strategy, and Employees Guide – 10 do’s and don’ts to using the Liberty Dollar and a form letter to present to the police before you begin distribution.  Government Exhibits 12 – 15 were all recordings made of conversations with Agent Walsh, BvNH, and Kevin Innes at LDU7.  Gov Exhibits 35 and 36 were Liberty Dollar Silver Pieces.
At this point Agent Andy in my opinion, lies from the stand, claiming Liberty Dollar to be a pyramid scheme or a Multi-Level Marketing organization.  Really, this is 14 year veteran agent of the FBI.  There is no doubt that he knows the difference between a pyramid scheme and a standard corporate marketing structure that involves direct sales.  He lied and I witnessed it.
His next testimony then turned the September 14, 2006 consumer currency advisory warning posted by the US mint.  The warning was sent by certified mail to the BvNH, the RCO’s, and was published in USA today, the Washington Post and other mainstream media papers.
In October 2006 LDU11 was held in Skokie, Illinois.  The next piece of evidence presented by the prosecution drew a chuckle from most present in the court room.  It was the infamous “Bite Me” t-shirt that an agent bought at LDU11 marked G. Ex. 39.  To be accurate the t-shirt read “The US Mint Can Bite Me”.  After LDU11, BvNH came to Asheville on two more occasions to present training. 
In March of 2007 the FBI had another under cover agent, Julia Mueller pose as a merchant so they could observe Kevin Innes go through the pitch on how to use the Liberty Dollar after the mint warning had been issued.  G. Ex. 50 was more Liberty Dollar rounds they had purchased.
The testimony now moved into the warrants for seizure that were issued, and the process to obtain the warrants.  The raid on the Liberty Dollar and the Sunshine Mint took place on November 14, 2007.
The agents who conducted the seizures at both the Evansville office, and the Sunshine Mint logged all items that were seized.  Government Exhibits 58 – 71 were office materials such as business cards, the RCO the contract with Kevin Innes, invoices, profit statements for the Liberty Dollar and other items of general
business use.
G. Ex. 66 and 66a were of interest.  The agents apparently seized medallions of silver and various samples of script from Kevin Innes car at the time of his arrest.  Again, just my opinion, but it appears that this evidence will weigh more in the favor of the defense.  The prosecution may have brought it in to make Kevin look like a “serial silver buyer” gasp, or someone of that nature, but he probably had it to show as evidence that many
organizations produce similar items as the Liberty Dollar.  I know after the Liberty Dollar raid my partner collected no less that 25 “coins” and script being used as money, such as McDonald gift certificates and such.  Some of the items we collected were actually issued by other Government Agencies, like the “Air Force Coin” that you can buy.  He sent it all to Bernard for evidence.
Government Exhibits 72 -75 were photographs of the dies and molding from the Sunshine Mint, and other correspondence between BvNH and the Sunshine Mint.
There was a bit more testimony about a merchant who approached agent Andy with some questions about the legality of the Liberty Dollar, and G. Ex 45 was another one ounce Liberty Dollar turned in by the merchant.
Defense council, Randal Lee, began his questioning with “Are you aware that the defendant filed suit in the District Court of Indiana against the US Mint?” Yes his was aware. This suit also named Henry Paulson, Alberto Gonzales and others and was seeking an injunction against the US Mint requesting a redress of grievances stating that the use of Liberty Dollar was not against the law.
Agent Andy testified that he requested the US Mint issue the warning.  He was also unaware of any declaratory judgment available regarding the legality of the Liberty Dollar being available in a civil suit such as that which was filed.
He testified that he did know Liberty Dollar was incorporated in Nevada.  NORFED stands for “National Organization to Repeal the Federal Reserve Act and the Internal Revenue Code.  He did not know whether Bernard was an architect before he started Liberty Dollar.  Andy had no special training from the FBI regarding Pyramid Schemes or Multi-Level Marketing.  He was aware that they were characterized by residual payments, and the Liberty Dollar did not make these types of payments to the RCO’s.  He had reviewed the audits of the Liberty Dollar and had found them to represent the accurate quantities that existed.
He testified that having the head of the Statute of Liberty on the face of the Liberty Dollar was not in itself illegal.  He had no training in counterfeit identification.  That the Liberty Dollar clearly says it is .9999 Fine Silver and no US Coin says that.  They also confiscated tokens promoting the 2nd Amendment and the Ron Paul Presidential Candidacy even though they had not been used as currency.  The Liberty Dollar legitimately contains what it says it contains.
Does the government make any “coins” that contain .9999 Fine Silver? No, but pre-1964 “coins” contain silver.
When asked what the value of the Kennedy half dollar is he said “But nobody makes money passing the Kennedy Half Dollar”.  Think about it, this is better than a “Sheenism”!
Defense questions included, how many government “coins” are marked MSRP? None.
Did you search the Sunshine Mint? No other agents did.
Can you approximate the amount of bullion seized at the Sunshine Mint?  No, but in total 10 tons of Gold, Silver, Platinum, and Palladium were seized from the entire organization.
What is a warehouse receipt and how is it different from a Federal Reserve Note? A warehouse receipt can be turned in for gold or silver.
During your investigation did you make an effort to determine who owned the tons of silver, gold, platinum, and palladium that was to be seized? No, we assumed that they belonged to the Liberty Dollar because they were in the Liberty Dollars custody.
So the warehouse receipts cannot be redeemed because you are holding all of the silver and gold.  Is that correct?  Yes.
Have you had training regarding patent infringement?  No.
If a person draws up a round to have it made where do they go to ask the mint if it is legal?  They cannot.
Then he went on to explain the difference between Barter, Local Currency, and Private Currency.  Barter is like trading a chicken or jelly beans, and example of Local Currency would be something “Ithica Hours”.
“You testified regarding Statutes 485 and 486 that make it illegal to utter or pass “coins” of gold or silver.  What is the definition of a ‘coin’?  A coin is legal tender.
There is a 5 ounce silver liberty.  Does the US Government make a 5 ounce Silver? No.
The last question from the defense was, “Were you aware of any paper receipts being passed?”  His answer, No.
Witness #2 – FBI Special Agent Karen Walsh (aka Karen Wallace)
Walsh testified that she was a trained under cover agent for the FBI and joined the investigation for the purpose of going under cover.  She joined Liberty Dollar as an Associate beginning in August 2005.  Her first contact was with Kevin Innes.  After meeting with him she then paid $250 to join as an associate.  She testified that as an associate she received monthly newsletters, and a Welcome packet containing marketing materials, Silver Liberty Dollars, Paper Liberty Dollars, and eLiberty Dollars.  $100 of the $250 went to the RCO for introducing her.  She then signed up to attend Liberty Dollar University #7 “LDU7”, to be held in Fletcher, NC, October 19 – 22, 2005.  The primary instructors at the LDU7 were BvNH and Kevin Innes.
She testified that Bernard was the Executive Director of Liberty Dollar, on the Executive Board, and the RCO of Indiana.
G. Ex. 25a – h the Welcome packet Agent Walsh received.
G. Ex. 26 4 Liberty Dollars 1oz $10 silver from Welcome packet
G. Ex. 17 Paper Certificates from Welcome packet
She testified that the Liberty Dollar claims there was 10 million Liberty Dollars in circulation and 100,000 users nationwide.
The prosecution produced a flow chart of the Liberty Dollar organization:
(INSERT CHART HERE) still to come.
She discussed the process of the move up saying, “When the spot price moved up they would re-mint the $10 face value to a $20, and then to $50”.
She also testified that LDU7 was geared toward marketing.  Bernard was there 100% of the time and did the majority of the instructing.
G. Ex. 17 – 24, Liberty Dollar University Documents.  The welcome letter, Sylabus, Salesmanship 101, How to approach businesses, New RCO Strategy, Employees Guide 10 do’s and don’ts, Rates, Letter to the police.
How to do the drop? Agent Walsh described in detail the process of “Doing the drop” which was part of the training at LDU7.  She was told to hold the Liberty Dollar about six inches above the palm of the hand of the merchant and then drop it into their palm.
The prosecution then played a short snippet G. Ex. 25c which was a DVD containing a special presentation filmed by the Learning Channel.  The clipped showed Bernard approaching a hot dog vendor and spending a $10 Liberty to get his food, and then him in a shop offering the Liberty Dollar to a merchant who was happy to accept it in exchange for T-shirts.
That ended day one of the trial.
Tomorrow turns out to be even better than today with testimony from the Chief Council for the US Mint, and the FBI Metallurgist.  And what they have to say is in my opinion is AWESOME!  So stay tuned for the next update.  Aloha, until tomorrow.
Disclaimer:   Please keep in mind that these notes are the best of my recollection at the time they were taken.  It is very hard to hear in the court room sometimes. Take them as you will, no guarantee is made of their accuracy because I am not a human typewriter or tape recorder and no recording devices are being allowed in the courtroom.
Now I consider myself to be a friend of Bernard von NotHaus and I also am a Liberty Dollar Associate, so I am by no means a partial reporter in this case.  In my opinion, Liberty Dollar is one of the doors to changing our broken financial system.  Liberty Dollar became a threat to the Federal Reserve by competing with them, and the Fed had them taken out of business.  That is my opinion. However, I have made every effort to report as accurately the proceedings that are going on in the Federal District Court here in Statesville, Indiana.
For those of you who are completely in the dark about the Liberty Dollar Organization by Monday, March 14, 2011, I will have a story organized to fill you in on the details but this testimony gives a fairly accurate picture of the Liberty Dollar Story.
By:  Heather Lewis

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5 Comments in Response to

Comment by Charles Hampe
Entered on:

 Great reporting job !   There seems to be a blackout of news concerning the Liberty Dollar trial and I am grateful for the insight that this article provides.  I just hope Heather can and will continue with updates.

We are gradually losing all our rights in this country.  The Liberty Dollar represents one of the freedoms that is hanging in the balance right now.  I sure hope BVNH prevails but I am very concerned that the powers that be will crush him.  Truth and justice are no match for the one-sided government monopoly on the "justice system".

Comment by Heather Lewis
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The updates are now available at I am still catching up but will get there as soon as possible. Thanks for your encouragement! Heather Lewis

Comment by Gimmel Yod
Entered on:

Amazing! Just a note that the "Liberty" I got in FY2000 and had a face value of $10 is now worth $30+ for the silver alone!  One that I purchased in 2000 for $20 was auctioned for over $500 on eBay! Wow!  The Liberty Dollar "Notes" have all been selling for multiples of their face value -- the $1's fetching as much as $30 each on ebay! The Liberty dollar is AWESOME!  Nobody got screwed except those people whom the GOVERNMENT STOLE THEIR WAREHOUSED METAL FROM! Overall, the Liberty Dollar is the most lucrative "hobby" I ever got involved with!  The ROI on my meager investment has averaged over +2500%! Go LD!

Comment by Donald Barsell
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 Thank you for a look inside the trial. Excellent summary. Your efforts are appreciated. For Liberty (dollars)

Comment by Brock Lorber
Entered on:

dammitsomuch!  That was two days ago, and I can't find any updates anywhere!  What happened yesterday?

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