A federal court judge in Camden, New Jersey has sentenced admitted counterfeit coins importer, Johnathan A. Kirschner, 35, of Moorestown, New Jersey, to 10 1/2 years in prison. After being alerted by members of the Anti-Counterfeiting Educational Foundation about the sale of counterfeit coins to unsuspecting buyers, investigators discovered and confiscated at Kirschner’s home fake gold and silver coins and bogus ingots that would have been worth more than $46 million if they were genuine, according to ACEF.
Foundation experts also provided ongoing expert assistance to the U.S. Attorney’s office and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security during the investigation.
In addition to admitting he imported, possessed and sold counterfeit coins, Kirschner admitted he falsely impersonated an agent of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).
His sentencing was delayed nearly a year as U.S. District Court Judge Robert B. Kugler received and considered comments from victims, including a dozen sovereign Mints, private mints, and grading services, according to Doug Davis, ACEF Director of Anti-Counterfeiting.
“The lengthy sentence is a major victory. I felt the judge was very thorough in reviewing the evidence and realized the possible high level of fraud that could occur,” stated Richard Weaver, a member of the ACEF Board of Directors and President of the Professional Numismatists Guild who testified as an expert witness during the sentencing hearing on January 28, 2020.
Weaver, President of Delaware Valley Rare Coins in Broomall, Pennsylvania, played a crucial role in the apprehension of Kirschner, also known under the alias of Jonathan Kratcher.
Two of Kirschner’s victims visited Weaver in early 2017 seeking an evaluation of 49 Morgan dollars they purchased from Kirschner. Weaver examined the coins and informed the couple that all of them were counterfeits.
The two victims told Weaver they trusted Kirschner because he claimed he was an ATF agent selling coins as a side business. He displayed an ATF badge on his Facebook site and wore it when he met with them.
They also told Weaver that they had a tentative appointment with Kirschner to purchase more items in a couple of days. Weaver promptly contacted ACEF’s Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force which in turn alerted federal law enforcement agents who immediately identified the ATF badge shown on Kirschner’s Facebook site as counterfeit.
Working with the couple, ATF and Homeland Security Investigations set up a sting operation with an undercover agent posing as the sister of the couple. Kirchner was arrested in the act of selling counterfeit coins to the undercover agent.
After the arrest, law enforcement officials executed a search warrant of Kirchner’s house and Customs and Border Protection intercepted additional packages shipped to him from China.
Weaver served as law enforcement’s numismatic expert in the Kirchner case, devoting many hours to identifying all the counterfeit coins, bars, and grading service holder components. In addition, he provided a current market value for each item if it had been genuine so that law enforcement can determine the potential harm to victims and to the marketplace.
“The important work of the foundation and the task force are supported entirely by donations,” explained the foundation’s Executive Director Robert Brueggeman whose background is in law enforcement and security. “The ACEF is a 501(c)(3) corporation and all donations to ACEF are tax deductible.”
The ACEF assisted in another case last year.
We reported on the task force and the foundation in 2018.