Illegality of the Liberty Dollar:
"The Constitution grants to Congress the power “to coin money” and to “regulate the Value thereof” — but it does not explicitly grant an exclusive right to do such things. There are legal-tender laws that regulate production of government currency and counterfeiting laws that prohibit things like “uttering” gold or silver coins “for use as current money.”
Mr. von NotHaus claims he never meant the Liberty Dollar to be used as legal tender. He says he created it as “a private voluntary currency” for those conducting business outside the government’s purview. His guiding metaphor is the relationship between the Postal Service and FedEx. “What happened in the FedEx model,” he testified, “is that they” — a private company offering services the government did not — “brought competition to the post office.”
To introduce the Liberty Dollar in 1998, Mr. von NotHaus moved from Hawaii to Evansville, Ind., where he joined forces with Jim Thomas, who for several years had been publishing a magazine called Media Bypass, whose pages were filled with conspiracy theories and interviews with militia members, even Timothy McVeigh.
Working from the magazine’s office, Mr. von NotHaus lived in a mobile home and promoted his nascent currency to “patriot groups” on Mr. Thomas’s mailing list while reaching an agreement with Sunshine Minting Inc., in Idaho, to produce the Liberty Dollar. His marketing scheme was simple: he drove around the country in a Cadillac trying to persuade local merchants like hair salons and restaurants to use his coins and to offer them as change to willing customers.
Banks, of course, did not accept his money; however, to ensure that it found its way only into hands that wanted to use it, Mr. von NotHaus placed a toll-free number and a URL address on the currency he produced. If people mistakenly got hold of it, they could mail it back to Evansville and receive its equivalent in actual dollar bills.
Now jump ahead to 2004. A detective in Asheville, N.C., learned one day that a client of a credit union had to tried to pass a “fake coin” at one its local branches. An investigation determined that some business acquaintances of Mr. von NotHaus were, court papers say, allied with the sovereign citizens’ movement, an antigovernment group.
Federal agents infiltrated the Liberty Dollar outfit as well as its educational arm, Liberty Dollar University.
In 2006, with millions of the coins in circulation in more than 80 cities, the United States Mint sent Mr. von NotHaus a letter advising that the use of his currency “as circulating money” was a federal crime.
He ignored this advice,and in 2007, federal agents raided the offices in Evansville, seizing, among other things, copper dollars embossed with the image of Mr. Paul.
Two years later, Mr. von NotHaus was arrested on fraud and counterfeiting charges, accused of having used the Liberty Dollar’s parent corporation — Norfed, the National Organization for Repeal of the Federal Reserve — to mount a conspiracy against the United States.
At his federal trial, witnesses testified to the Liberty Dollar’s criminal similitude to standard American coins. They said his coins included images of Lady Liberty and cheekily reversed “In God We Trust” to “Trust in God.” Then again, his coins were made of real gold and silver, as American coins are not, and came in different sizes and unusual denominations of $10 and $20.
In his own defense, Mr. von NotHaus testified about a “philanthropic mission” to combat devaluation with a currency based on precious metals and asserted that he was not involved in “a radical armed offense against the government or their money.”
It was, of course, to no avail; and in 2011, a jury found him guilty after a 90-minute deliberation." (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/25/us/liberty-dollar-creator-awaits-his-fate-behind-bars.html?pagewanted=all&_r=3&)