Government emails, documents reveal truth about FBI’s infamous gold excavation three years ago

Government emails, documents reveal truth about FBI’s infamous gold excavation three years ago
(Planet-Today) Government emails and recently released documents revealed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) went looking for the fabled Civil War-era gold three years ago this month in a remote woodland site in Pennsylvania.

(Article by Nolan Barton republished from

Legend has it that in the summer of 1863, a special Union detachment was tasked with transporting 26 gold bars, each weighing 50 pounds, from West Virginia to the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia. That detachment, as the story goes, was ambushed, the gold lost and supposedly buried.

The story had inspired generations of treasure hunters, including Dennis Parada and his son Kem – the co-owners of treasure-hunting outfit Finders Keepers. They were working with Warren Getler, author of “Rebel Gold,” a book exploring the possibility of buried Civil War-era caches of gold and silver.

In January 2018, the Paradas and Getler came to Philadelphia in January 2018 to meet with agents from the FBI’s Art Crime Team. They told the agents that their detector had registered a hunk of metal they suspected was the long-lost Union gold in Dents Run, Elk County, Pennsylvania.

The FBI hired geophysical consulting firm Enviroscan to survey the hilltop site using gravimeter, which indicated a large metallic mass with the density of gold.

An FBI agent told them the location of the mass was “one or two feet off Denny’s sweet spot,” recalled Getler. “Then I went to ask how big it is. And he said, ‘seven to nine tons.’ And I literally said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding!'”

That much gold would have been worth hundreds of millions.

Enviroscan co-founder Timothy Bechtel declined to comment about what his instruments detected, citing client confidentiality. He told the Associated Press that the FBI asked him to keep quiet about his findings.

John Louie, a geophysics professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, said the gravimeter is a powerful tool that can yield important clues about what’s underground.

“But it doesn’t prove it,” he said. “It doesn’t make any elemental analysis. It’s indicative, it’s suggestive, but it can’t prove it.”

There’s only one way to prove it.

On March 13, 2018, the FBI went digging in Dents Run, about 135 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. The bureau has concocted a story that agents only went there for a court-authorized excavation of “what evidence suggested may have been a cultural heritage site.”

In any event, the FBI said, the dig came up empty. “The FBI unequivocally rejects any claims or speculation to the contrary,” the bureau’s Public Affairs Specialist Carrie Adamowski said in a statement Tuesday, March 9.

But the Paradas were not convinced and let their lawyer, Bill Cluck, dig up evidence to prove that the FBI uncovered something during the dig.

Documents prove FBI goes after buried treasure

Cluck didn’t come up empty, successfully suing for access to government emails about the dig. The documents showed that the federal law enforcement indeed went after buried treasure.

“We believe the cache itself is in the neighborhood of 3x5x8 (feet) to 5x5x8,” wrote K.T. Newton, an assistant U.S attorney in Philadelphia, in a 2018 email marked “Confidential.”

The FBI needed to secure a federal court order to gain access to the site because it was located on a state-owned land. The legal maneuvering generated emails between Newton and Audrey Miner, chief lawyer for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).

“Can you please provide the basis upon which the Office of the United States Attorney asserts that the gold, if found, belongs to the federal government?” Miner asked Newton on the same day FBI agents started digging on the site.

According to email records released by the state under court order, Newton replied that a federal affidavit in the case was sealed. She instead offered to “discuss this generally with you on the phone.”

Getler said the FBI’s demeanor changed from friendly to adversarial during the dig. He said he and the Paradas were led away from the site and then kept far away at the base of a hill. At the end of the second and final day of the dig, they were escorted to the site to see a large, empty hole.

On March 16, 2018, two days after the dig ended, Newton emailed Miner that “we are all disappointed and scratching our heads over the several scientific test results.”

The dig drew plenty of media attention. On March 28, 2018, Miner asked Newton for an update on the federal investigation, telling her “the gold story still has legs, and the DCNR is now getting a lot of ‘gold-diggers’ interested in Dents Run.”

In her reply, Newton told Miner: “For your knowledge only … we have no other scientific evidence, other than what the excavation had been based on, that any gold is hidden in that area.”

Miner emailed back: “I guess you can’t come right out and state there is no gold to be found at Dents Run?”

“Unfortunately, we cannot,” Newton replied.

Dents Run dig is becoming a legend itself

Three years later, the Dents Run story is not likely to go away. Residents in the area claimed that they’ve heard a backhoe and jackhammer overnight – when the excavation was supposed to have been paused — and saw a convoy of FBI vehicles, including large armored trucks.

“The question now is how much they found and where did it go to,” Dennis Parada said, insisting that the FBI’s assertion of an empty hole is “insulting all the credible people who did this kind of work.”

“It was a slap in the face, really, to think all these people could make that kind of mistake,” he said.

Meanwhile, Cluck is still pursuing government material on the case. The FBI promised to turnover nearly 2,400 pages of documents, as well as video files, in response to his Freedom of Information Act request.

But the lawyer didn’t really have a golden touch. A state appeals judge recently declined Cluck’s petition to order the DCNR to give him the federal writ of entry and seizure warrant that the FBI agents relied on to gain access to the site.

However, in rejecting Cluck’s petition, Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania Judge Kevin Brobson revealed for the first time in a footnote of his Jan. 28 opinion the name of the sealed federal case: “In the Matter of: Seizure of One or More Tons of United States Gold.”

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