Coins Hidden By C.H. Butcher Jr. Recovered In Three Oil Drums
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Three 55-gallon drums with an estimated $805,000 in silver coins hidden by convicted bank fraud artist C.H. Butcher Jr. were recovered Tuesday in a rented truck at a suburban airport.
Federal authorities also said they recovered $732,000 in U.S. Treasury coupons which Butcher had hidden from bankruptcy creditors, who have claims of $237 million against him.
Found with the coins was a rosary, wrapped in plastic.
The coins - damp, dirty and most still in rotting bank bags - were turned over pursuant to Butcher’s guilty plea to bankruptcy fraud, bank fraud, tax fraud and money-laundering, said U.S. Attorney John W. Gill Jr.
Although it appeared the drums had been buried, Gill, his assistants and FBI agents would not confirm the silver dollars, half-dollars, quarters and dimes had been hidden underground.
They retrieved the truck from the Downtown Island Airport and drove it to an armored car service port beneath the First Tennessee Bank Plaza, where the coins were put into 92 new, coin bags.
The rosary was taken into possession with the coins and coupons and will be presented to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
A condition of Butcher’s plea agreement required him to cooperate with federal investigators and with bankruptcy officials trying to liquidate his assets to repay debts for which he will bear a life-long ressonsibility.
Butcher is awaiting sentencing on the fraud and money-laundering convictions.
Gill refused to say who notified him as to the location of the coins, some of which dated to the late 1800s. Liberty-head dimes and other rare coins were among the coins.
Virtually every coin was at least 80 percent silver, making their actual value much higher than their currency value, said Neal Melnick, the attorney for Butcher’s bankruptcy trustee, James R. Martin.
The coins will be weighed Wednesday and coin experts probably would be asked to assess the value of individual coins, which were purchased for Butcher by Plaza 12 Investments, a firm he co-owned with Arnold Tackett.
Tackett, of Chattanooga, is a former Butcher associate and one-time assistant state treasurer who is serving two years in prison for making false loan statements.
The coins were missing since 1983, Melnick said.
″The coins were bought in bulk for their silver value. From what I can see here some are rare. We’ll get a coin expert to look at them and see if some shouldn’t be pulled out and sold separately.
Butcher was chairman of the now-defunct City & County bank chain which suffered numerous closures following a massive federal investigation of his and his brother’s banking practices.
Butcher’s older brother, two-time Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Knoxville World’s Fair organizer Jake Butcher, was sentenced to 20 years in prison following his own guilty pleas to bank fraud and tax fraud.