Treasure hunters allege FBI seized Civil War-era gold and hid it: NPR

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Dennis Parada, right, and his son Kem Parada stand at the FBI’s dig site for Civil War-era gold in September 2018 in Dents Run, Penn. A scientific report commissioned by the FBI shortly before agents set out to find buried treasure suggested a huge amount of gold lay beneath the surface.

Michael Rubinkam/AP


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Michael Rubinkam/AP


Dennis Parada, right, and his son Kem Parada stand at the FBI’s dig site for Civil War-era gold in September 2018 in Dents Run, Penn. A scientific report commissioned by the FBI shortly before agents set out to find buried treasure suggested a huge amount of gold lay beneath the surface.

Michael Rubinkam/AP

The FBI either lied to a federal judge about a video of its secret 2018 digs for Civil War-era gold, or illegally destroyed the video to stop a father-son team of treasure hunters to have access to it, said a lawyer for the duo. in new legal filings that allege a government cover-up.

The FBI has long insisted that its agents recovered nothing of value when they went in search of the legendary cache of gold. But Finders Keepers, a treasure-hunting company that led agents to the remote Pennsylvania wooded site in hopes of securing a finder’s fee, suspects the FBI has found tons of gold and is getting away with it. is pulled.

After Finders Keepers began pressuring the government for information about the digs, the FBI initially said it could produce 17 relevant video files. Then, without explanation, the FBI reduced that number to four. Last week, under a court order, the agency finally revealed what it said was the content of those four videos – and it turns out everything had been provided to the FBI by Finders Keepers co-owner Dennis Parada himself. even, weeks before the dig, at a time when he was offering his testimony for buried treasure.

The FBI didn’t say it had video of the actual excavation, which Finders Keepers is looking for. The treasure hunters say they have evidence the FBI did indeed take video of the dig – and they’re asking for sanctions against the FBI for what their attorney called a blatant, bad-faith effort to mislead.

On March 13, 2018, Parada’s hidden trail camera captured what appears to be an FBI agent in front of a video camera at the hillside dig site, with other agents in the background. The trail camera image was included in a legal filing late Friday by attorney Anne Weismann, who is representing Finders Keepers in her Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the government.

FBI agents and representatives of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources established a base in March 2018 in Benezette Township, Elk County, Pennsylvania.

Katie Weidenboerner/Le Courrier-Express via AP


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FBI agents and representatives of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources established a base in March 2018 in Benezette Township, Elk County, Pennsylvania.

Katie Weidenboerner/Le Courrier-Express via AP

The photo “suggests that the FBI falsely claimed to have no other reactive video tapes or that the FBI unlawfully destroyed reactive video tapes in an effort to circumvent FOIA disclosure requirements,” Weismann wrote.

She asked a judge to order the Justice Department to pay a portion of Finders’ Keepers’ legal fees to compensate for legal wrangling over the videos, and to hold the FBI accountable for “covering up the results of its digs.. .this very advanced scientific indicated technology contained several tons of gold.”

A message was sent to the FBI seeking comment on Monday.

The initial court-ordered release of documents last month by the government included an FBI-commissioned geophysical study that suggested an object with a mass of up to 9 tons and a density consistent with gold was buried on the site. The FBI used the consultant’s work to obtain a warrant to seize any gold found at the Dent’s Run site, about 135 miles (220 kilometers) northeast of Pittsburgh, where legend says a shipment of gold of the Union of 1863 was lost or stolen en route. at the US Mint in Philadelphia.

The agency categorically denied finding anything. Treasure hunters say the FBI has always dodged.

“The fact that the FBI is now saying they don’t have any videotapes of the digs is straining credulity and taking this whole thing to the next level,” Warren Getler, who has worked closely with Finders Keepers. “We have compelling photographic evidence of them filming the excavations and interviewing their operational leader at the site. This raises a lot of serious questions.”

In addition to seeking legal fees, Weismann also asked the court to give Finders Keepers the opportunity to depose three FBI officials: Jacob Archer of the FBI’s art crime team in Philadelphia, who oversaw the dig; the unidentified videographer shown in the trail camera; and Michael Seidel, the head of the FBI’s archive release section.

“We want to answer two questions. Did the FBI create any videotapes during the dig? The photo certainly seems to answer that question. And if so, what happened to those videotapes? It seems to me that they are the best people to have this information,” Weismann, a veteran FOIA attorney who previously worked at the Department of Justice, said in an interview Monday.

Weismann said in court documents that the Justice Department opposes both requests.

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