Ron Paul Coin Minter, Pot Priest, Faces 15 Years in Prison

| Mon Mar. 21, 2011 9:52 AM EDT

At least the Ron Paul chocolates are still legal. Bernard Von NotHaus, the "monetary architect" behind the world's only currency emblazoned with Ron Paul's face, has been convicted in federal court for producing counterfeit currency and engaging in "conspiracy" against the United States. From our friends at Indiana's Evansville Courier & Press:

Von NotHaus developed the liberty dollar in 1998 as an "inflation-proof" alternative currency to the U.S. dollar, which he claimed has devalued since the Federal Reserve was established in 1913.

The silver medallions were produced by a private mint in Idaho on behalf of Evansville-based Liberty Services, which also issued paper notes the group said were backed by silver reserves...

According to federal prosecutors, Liberty 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.

In 2007, federal authorities raided Von NotHaus' Liberty Dollars headquarters in Evansville, and confiscated more than 2 tons of copper, silver, and gold coins. Von NotHaus had made no secret of his ambition, telling a Spokane newspaper, "we're going to be to the Federal Reserve System what Federal Express was to the Postal Service." Since 2009, lawmakers in at least 14 states have introduced legislation to require or encourage state governments to accept payment in gold or silver. In Utah, for instance, a proposed bill would permit citizens to operate their own private mints.

Since the raid, as the Southern Poverty Law Center notes, Von NotHaus has retired from the currency business to found the Free Marijuana Church of Honolulu, where he's a "high priest." He's currently working on a book, tentatively titled, One Toke to God—Two Tokes to Party. Von NotHaus faces up to 15 years in prison.