Treasure hunters who claim the FBI unearthed and took away $500 million in Civil War gold under cover of darkness want the agency to turn over documents they say will prove whether he has planned a night search.
Father and son Dennis and Kem Parada believe they have found a burial site halfway up a mountain in western Pennsylvania laden with a shipment of government gold dating back to 1863.
They alerted the FBI in 2018, which commissioned independent tests indicating the presence of the precious metal.
The agency says the search turned out to be a failure, but the Paradas believe the FBI continued their search overnight, before making off with the loot – depriving them of a hefty search fee.
The treasure hunters sued the FBI last year in US District Court in Washington, DC, and forced the release of documents relating to the dig under a Freedom of Information Act request.
Dennis Parada, right, and his son Kem Parada stand at the site of the FBI’s dig for Civil War gold in September 2018
Scientific tests at the site commissioned by the FBI hinted at an underground object with a mass of up to 9 tons and a density compatible with gold. The FBI used the consultant’s work to get a gold seizure warrant – if there was any to be found
But they now allege the FBI withheld or “tampered with” vital information.
In particular, the plaintiffs are asking for the release of operational documents which they say will show whether the agency planned a nighttime search – crucial to their claim that this is when the agents snuck in with the horde.
Detectors also say that the operation photographs released by the FBI do not contain timestamps, although the camera used takes them automatically.
Warren Getler, co-author of “Rebel Gold” and former Wall Street Journal reporter, who began working with the Paradas in 2017, told DailyMail.com that “the lack of a timestamp goes directly to the question of ‘a deliberate concealment of nocturnal activity’. ‘.
Dennis Parada, 70, was first alerted to the possible presence of Civil War gold in the region when he read an article in Treasure magazine in 1974.
The story revealed that a Union caravan with gold bullion in fake bottoms bound for the US Mint in Philadelphia was ambushed in Elk County.
In 2004, Parada discovered a cave at Dents Run after a washout revealed an opening in the side of a mountain.
He says he has since visited the cave more than 400 times and found a bullet, a bottle of whiskey and some bones scattered nearby that date back to the 19th century.
Gelter then arranged a meeting with the FBI after radar technology suggested gold was buried there.
The agency commissioned an independent company to carry out its own tests, which also indicated that a large amount of precious metal could be found.
Images released of the dig site by the FBI last year fueled new speculation about what had or had not been found in the search for the lost Union treasure.
A photograph released by the FBI shows a hole they buried while searching for the treasure
The FBI brought over 50 agents and dug 12 feet, but the search was a failure, or so they claim.
A local city official said he saw lights and heard officers working late into the night, while others reported seeing armored vehicles in the city.
Kem recalls being told to “stay in his car” for the duration of the search.
But when the FBI turned over a trove of documents from the dig, they were incomplete, treasure hunters claim.
Many of the FBI photos don’t seem relevant, including the hundreds of images of random trees and a wooded road leading to the dig site, while others just don’t add up or raise any concerns. additional questions, Getler said.
The author claims that the Nikon D700 camera used during the operation automatically includes digital timecode readouts, but these were missing from the photographs released by the FBI.
Anne Weismann, the treasure hunters’ attorney, told DailyMail.com that it would be unusual for a federal investigation not to be meticulously recorded.
“From a forensic perspective, you would think they would use time and date,” she said. “To me, that’s a big oversight.”
Weismann also believes the FBI is withholding communications he had with the company whose forensic testing suggested the presence of gold at the site and prompted him to file an affidavit seeking a warrant to seize property belonging to the US Treasury.
The attorney says the FBI only provided the site analysis provided by the surveyor, Rettew, and refuses to acknowledge any further contact.
“They want us to believe that after finding nothing, there was never a follow-up with this company,” Weismann said.
Getler said treasure hunters may never be able to prove the FBI got away with a pot of gold. But he added: ‘What we can prove is that the FBI conducted a nighttime search, despite their denial.
Treasure hunters also shared images of the artifacts they said they found at the site during their digs, which they say include a bullet, a bottle of whiskey and bones scattered nearby dating back to the 19th century.
FBI records also show that several weeks before the dig, an agent from the agency’s Art Crimes team contacted Wells Fargo to ask if it had shipped gold by stagecoach for the US Mint. in 1863.
Wells Fargo historians found no evidence of this, but said records from the time were incomplete.
Wells Fargo shipped gold on a diligent basis, a corporate archivist wrote in an email to the FBI, but large quantities of the precious metal, as well as gold that had to be transported long distances, were ” best transported by ship or train”.
Getler said the gold could have been transported by wagon and not by stagecoach.
The FBI declined to comment when contacted by DailyMail.com, but has repeatedly denied continuing to dig overnight.
He previously said that “no gold or other evidence was located or collected” and that “the only items the FBI removed from the site were equipment and supplies brought in for the excavations.”
The agency said that while the geophysical tests “had suggested a potential cultural heritage site at Dents Run, this possibility was not confirmed by the excavations”.
Rettew said he couldn’t comment due to a confidentiality agreement with the FBI.