FBI feared Pennsylvania could grab legendary gold, court documents say
An FBI agent requested a federal warrant in 2018 to seize a legendary US government cache of gold that he said was “stolen during the Civil War” and hidden in a cave in Pennsylvania, claiming the state could take the gold for itself if the government asks for it. authorization, according to court documents unsealed Thursday.
The newly unsealed affidavit confirms a previous Associated Press report that the government was looking for a legendary gold cache at the site, which federal authorities had long refused to confirm. In any case, the FBI said, the search remained empty.
The AP and the Philadelphia Inquirer have asked a federal judge to unseal the case. Federal prosecutors did not object to the request and the judge agreed, paving the way for the release of documents on Thursday.
“I have probable reason to believe that a large cache of gold is secreted in the underground cave” at Dent’s Run, containing “one or more tons” belonging to the United States government, wrote Jacob Archer of the crime team. FBI artistry in Philadelphia.
Archer told the judge he needed a seizure warrant because he was concerned that if the federal government sought permission from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to excavate the site, the state would claim the gold for itself, setting up a costly legal battle.
“I am concerned that even though the DCNR gave its initial consent for the FBI to search the gold cache secreted at the Dent’s Run site, that consent may be revoked before the FBI reclaims the property from the United States,” with the result that the DCNR has illegally declared that this gold cache is abandoned property and therefore belongs to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, ”the affidavit stated.
Archer also claimed that in 2013, a member of the legislative staff met with the treasure hunters who identified the probable site and “bribed” them to offer them a state permit to dig “in exchange for three gold ingots. ‘gold or ten percent’ of all the treasure hunters have recovered. The staff member said he was acting on behalf of other members of the state government, Archer wrote.
No one has been charged in connection with the case, and federal prosecutors say they consider the case closed. A spokesperson for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources declined to comment.
The FBI has long refused to explain exactly why it dug on state-owned land in Elk County in March 2018, claiming only in written statements over the years that officers were there for an authorized search. by the court of “the evidence suggested that could have been a cultural heritage site.”
According to the affidavit, the FBI based its request for a seizure warrant in part on work done by a father-son treasure hunter couple who had made hundreds of trips to the area. The duo told authorities they believed they had found the location of the legendary Union gold, which legend has been told was either lost or stolen on its way to the US Mint in Philadelphia in 1863. .
After meeting with the treasure hunters in early 2018, the FBI hired a contractor with more sophisticated instruments. The contractor detected an underground mass weighing up to nine tons and having the density of gold, according to the affidavit.
This amount of gold would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Archer wrote that he also spoke to a reporter who had done extensive research on a Civil War-era group called the Knights of the Golden Circle. The KGC, Archer wrote, was a secret society of Confederate sympathizers who had allegedly “buried secret caches of weapons, Civil War parts, and military posts of the northern army in the southern states of the ‘west and north. “
Archer said a turtle sculpture found on a rock near the proposed excavation site was “most likely … a KGC marker for this site.”
Archer was unable to confirm that the U.S. Mint had in fact missed expected gold shipments because the Mint did not have documents for the Civil War period, according to the affidavit.
The FBI apparently did not tell the judge, in writing, what it found on the site, according to documents unsealed Thursday. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia said no such documents were filed with the court because the searches were empty.
Dennis and Kem Parada, co-owners of treasure hunting company Finders Keepers, said they believe the FBI found gold at the site and took legal action to get more information.
Their attorney, Bill Cluck, said the unsealed court documents simply raise more questions.
He noted that the warrant issued by US investigating magistrate Richard Lloret gave FBI agents permission to dig from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. FBI vehicles, including large armored trucks.
Also, it is telling that the FBI never checked with the contractor whose sensitive instruments indicated the possible presence of gold to ask what was wrong, said Warren Getler, the reporter who worked. in close collaboration with the Paradas and the FBI and is identified as “Person 3” in the FBI affidavit.
“Has science really gone wrong? I’m not so sure, ”said Getler, author of“ Rebel Gold, ”a book exploring the possibility of burying American Civil War caches of gold and silver.
“Why did they send in four or five armored cars after the fact? He asked. “Why did they work under cover of darkness? Why did they kick us out of the mountain at 3pm that day when we were supposed to be working as partners?
The FBI’s claim of an empty hole “insults all credible people who have done this kind of work,” Dennis Parada told the AP. “It was a slap in the face, really, to think all these people could make that kind of mistake.”