For this SPOTLIGHT, we decided to take a break from the busy news cycle and give you an unbelievable recent story that involves: treasure hunters, an FBI coverup, and 9 tons of buried gold.
During the Civil War, a shipment of Union gold was said to have been lost or stolen on its way to the Philadelphia U.S. Mint. While historians didn't put much credit to this story, many hopeful treasure hunters across the U.S. have been combing the mountains of Pennsylvania ever since.
But finally, in 2018, a father and son treasure hunter team, the Paradas, publicly claimed they had found the gold buried in a remote part of Elk County, on state-owned land.
Excited for the government to start digging, they quickly informed the FBI of their finding, which in turn soon hired Enviroscan, a geological survey company, to confirm there was indeed something there.
After monitoring the grounds, Enviroscan confirmed the possible presence of a large buried mass of metal with a similar density to gold and an estimated weight of 7 to 9 tons.
So to make sure there would be no problems, the Paradas struck a deal with the FBI:
The FBI would lead the dig, and the father and son team would be allowed to keep an eye on the excavation work.
But at the last minute, the FBI changed their mind and the treasure hunters were confined to their car, away from the site, during most of the two-day dig.
After claiming they had found no gold, the FBI finally led the Paradas to the site, which of course, by now, was nothing more than an empty hole.
Convinced that the FBI was lying and had robbed them of their gold, The Paradas filed a lawsuit against the FBI to get access to the government’s communications on the secret dig and learn the truth.
But the government refused to release the communications, citing a sealed federal court order preventing them from doing so. In the end, a state court finally ruled in favor of the Paradas, granting them access to the FBI communications.
And some of them were rather revelatory:
In an email marked “Confidential ” an assistant U.S. attorney in Philadelphia wrote: "We believe the cache itself is in the neighborhood of 3x5x8 (feet) to 5x5x8."
The Paradas then filed a new petition to access the sealed federal court case documents that they believed would reveal the whole truth about the case.
But it was rejected. And the FBI denied once more that there was ever any gold.
And then one last twist occurred.
In the written memorandum rejecting the Paradas' petition to unseal the documents, the state judge in charge of the case accidentally left a fascinating clue buried in a footnote.
And what clue exactly, you ask?
Oh, just the name of the sealed federal case:
“In the Matter of: Seizure of One or More Tons of United States Gold."
A pretty telling name, don't you think? 😎