Liberty Coins Not Legal

Southtowns businessman Daniel Buczek said he has had “no trouble” using Liberty silver dollars to buy coffee, oil filters for his car and other items at a number of area businesses.

But when someone in his family tried to use them to buy beer at a Buffalo Sabres game, Buczek and his son wound up in trouble with the law.

Buczek, 55, and Shane Buczek, 34, both of Derby, are believed to be the first people to be charged in this region for trying to make purchases with the Liberty dollar, a privately minted $20 coin.

In fact, some businesses in the Southtowns told The Buffalo News they do accept the currency.

Liberties, as the coins are called, are viewed by some people as an alternative to the U.S. government’s monetary system. The organization that makes Liberties claims that more than $15 million worth are in circulation throughout the nation.

“We weren’t trying to break any law,” Daniel Buczek said. “We weren’t passing counterfeit currency. We use Liberty silver dollars because they are backed by silver, and I believe the American monetary system is going to collapse.”

According to police, the Buczeks were arrested after they tried to buy beer with $20 Liberties from “numerous” vendors at the Dec. 26 Sabres game against the New York Islanders at HSBC Arena.

Acting on a complaint filed by a security officer at the game, Buffalo police charged the two men with felony counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument and criminal impersonation. A misdemeanor count of harassment was also filed.

The two Buczeks deny allegations they pushed and shoved the security officer, Edward M. Cotter, an off-duty Buffalo Police detective. They also deny allegations that Shane Buczek pulled out a badge and falsely identified himself as a federal agent.

Erie County District Attorney Frank J. Clark said the felony charges will be reduced before the case goes to trial at City Court. The trial is tentatively scheduled for Thursday. The two men should not have been charged with felonies, Clark said, but he added his office will pursue charges of attempted petit larceny and misdemeanor criminal impersonation.

“I was investigating complaints made by beer vendors all over the arena,” Cotter said. “The vendors said these people were trying to make them accept these silver coins, and getting very pushy about it. They were telling the vendors, “Hey, these coins are worth $100.’ “

The Buczeks deny claiming the coins were worth $100. They said they spent 16 hours in jail after their arrests and were briefly questioned as suspected counterfeiters by the U.S. Secret Service. The two Derby men insist they never intended to violate any law.

“It was actually my daughter who was trying to buy the beer, but they charged us instead,” Daniel Buczek said.

According to the Secret Service and a Washington spokesman for the U.S. Mint, Liberties are not cash. They are not made by the government and are not considered legal tender. The coins are made by an Evansville, Ind., organization called the National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve Act and the Internal Revenue Code.

(via Buffalo News)

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