Feds Seize Gold Worth $80 Million from Pennsylvania FamilySeptember 10th, 2012
We’ve asked before whether a Federal gold confiscation like in 1933 could happen again. Usually the question is dismissed as paranoid conspiracy theory, especially by those who don’t understand the role that precious metals play in the economy. Now it seems an incident in Pennsylvania may be setting the precedent to make it less speculation and more reality… or maybe they just never finished confiscating all the gold from 1933.
During the Great Depression, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, that paragon of coercive solutions to social problems, ordered that all gold bullion in the US be seized and melted into gold bars. Of course, skepticism of State virtue was alive and well even then, and many people refused to relinquish their property, preferring to hide it away. Well it seems the Feds just can’t let any escape.
The story goes that in 1933 the Philadelphia Mint produced 445,500 $20 “double eagle” gold pieces that were never circulated because of FDR’s executive order that same year. But some of them slipped out and somehow 10 came into the possession of Israel Switt, who wisely never informed the Federal Government of his holdings, but unfortunately he cannot be asked. Israel died in 1990 at the age of 95.
In 2003 Israel’s daughter, Joan Langbord discovered the coins among his possessions, and quite unwisely notified the government of their find, hoping to have the coins authenticated. Well the State authenticated them all right. They assessed their value around $80 million and seized them.
The Langbord family immediately sued to reclaim the coins, although you have to wonder whether or not any judge can be impartial in a decision that potentially enriches his employer that kind of money.
The State argued that the coins were stolen by Philadelphia Mint employee George McCann back in the 30s. McCann was investigated by the Secret Service back in the 40s, although he wasn’t available to testify and there there’s no real evidence connecting these coins to him. The Langbords argued that the State could not prove that the coins were stolen because no one, not even them, had any idea how Israel acquired them. In fact, as an avid numismatic coin dealer, Israel could have obtained them in any number of ways. Seems like simple presumption of innocence to me.
Well, in 2011 a federal jury disagreed, and on August 29th 2012 US District Judge Legrome Davis upheld that decision saying ”The disputed double eagles were not lawfully removed from the United States Mint and … remain the property of the United States.”
So there you have it. Don’t go thinking you actually own anything as far the government is concerned. They can trump up whatever pretense they like to deprive people of their property. And whatever you do, don’t bring your valuables to the government to authenticate. They’ve got graspy hands. You’re much better off going to a wise coin collector like Israel who had the good sense to keep his treasure to himself.
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