There has finally been a new development in the case of the Finders Keepers lawsuit against the FBI, who they suspect of stealing as much as six to nine tons of buried gold bullion that the treasure hunting duo claims to have located in rural western Pennsylvania. As you may recall, Dennis and Kem Parada sought permission to dig at the site where they believed they had located a missing shipment of Union gold that allegedly disappeared in 1863 on its way to the mint in Philadelphia. The men were suspicious of the actions of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, whose permission was required to dig on such public land, so they contacted the FBI for help. The sort of “help” they received from the FBI was not what they expected, however.
A convoy of FBI earth movers and dump trucks traveled up and down the hill where the site was located well into the night while the men were kept away and unable to see what was happening. The next morning they were shown an empty hole and told that nothing had been found. Being understandably suspicious, the duo went to court, requesting all documentation that the FBI had about the investigation. After a series of conflicting responses from the Bureau, they finally admitted in June of last year that there were documents and video from the dig, but it would take “years” for them to process them all to see what could be released. But now a federal judge has run out of patience and ordered the FBI to start turning over the records to the plaintiffs in batches, with a deadline of 30 days for the first release. (US News)
A federal judge has ordered the FBI to speed up the release of records about the search for the legendary gold, ruling Monday in favor of Finders Keepers, the treasure hunting outfit that led FBI agents to the remote site. The group accuses the Justice Department of slow-walking their request for information.
The FBI must turn over 1,000 pages of records per month, starting in 30 days, and the first batch of records must include a key report sought by Finders Keepers, U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta ordered.
The ruling came four months after Finders Keepers sued the Justice Department over its failure to produce records on the FBI’s search. The FBI has long insisted its March 2018 dig came up empty, but Finders Keepers says the government has acted suspiciously throughout the four-year saga.
Saying that the FBI has “acted suspiciously” is being exceptionally charitable on the part of the plaintiffs. This entire story has stunk on ice since we first learned about it. As if the bizarre activity at the dig site wasn’t bad enough, the Bureau’s behavior in dealing with the courts has been worse. When the FOIA request was first submitted, the FBI said they had no records of the dig. Upon being challenged, they said there were records, but they weren’t subject to FOIA. After the court told them that was nonsense, they admitted to having 2,400 pages of records and 17 video files.
Here’s the next twist. Despite having submitted answers to the court saying they had 17 video files, the FBI is now saying there are only four videos. The judge isn’t forcing the FBI to explain that discrepancy. He said that FOIA only requires the Bureau to produce records, not answer questions from the plaintiffs about the records. But it’s one more item on the growing list of highly suspicious maneuvers they’ve been pulling. What worries me is that the FBI has had more than enough time by now to “lose” some of the videos and records. They’ve also never explained why there would be thousands of pages of records and hours of video of a dig site that turned out to be nothing more than an empty hole. And they may never be forced to answer that question in court. But we may find out at least part of what they can be forced to share by the end of May. Keep your fingers crossed.
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