Jury decides U.S. rightly took gold coins, judge to decide owner

PHILADELPHIA Wed Jul 20, 2011 6:10pm EDT

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PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - The government on Wednesday won the first round of a battle over the ownership of 10 prized gold coins from the Franklin Roosevelt Administration in the 1930s, now worth an estimated $75 million.

A U.S. District Court jury decided, after five hours of deliberation, that the U.S. Treasury had properly taken possession of the double eagle coins, which a Philadelphia family forfeited after discovering them in the safe deposit box of a deceased family member.

The next step is for the judge who presided over the trial, Legrome Davis, to decide who actually owns them. No date has been set for that ruling.

"I think the lesson is you cannot steal from the U.S. government, hide it for almost 80 years, and then try and profit off of government property," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacqueline Romero, who tried the case.

"It is our duty to go after government property," she said.

Romero said the coins were never legally issued by the government and that somehow the late Israel Switt, a Philadelphia jeweler, ended up with them.

His family alerted authorities after finding the coins in 2003, and went to court to get them back. The coins have been in the government's possession since 2004.

All double eagle coins - some 445,500 were made - were to have been destroyed by 1937. The $20 gold pieces were called double eagles because at that time a $10 coin was called an eagle.

Barry Berke, the family's lawyer, did not immediately return a phone call for comment.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Cynthia Johnston)

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Comments (1)
gopmichael wrote:
Total BS. At the time these were made, anyone could walk in and exchange for a new coin. Must be a few dozen floating around, legally swapped.

2nd fdr far exceeded his authority, gold money is in the constitution.

3rd the coinage act of 1964 made all coins made at the us mint prior to April 1933 legal.

And of course since these all legal they r not worth 7.5 mop each, maybe $500k ea.

And to reiterate fdr was a pos, broke the law and stretched the powers.of the presidency farther then our founders intended and continues to screw us to this day.

Jul 20, 2011 9:37pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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