Pennsylvania told to produce documents about mystery FBI dig
In this Sept. 20, 2018 photo, Dennis Parada, right, and his son Kem Parada stand at the site of the FBI’s dig for Civil War-era gold in Dents Run, Pennsylvania. On Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019 an appeals court ordered Pennsylvania state officials to produce their communications with the FBI about the excavation, which was conducted on state-owned land. The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources had refused to provide the documents to Finders Keepers, citing a federal court order.
(AP Photo/Michael Rubinkam)
Score another one for the treasure hunters.
A father and son who believe they found a legendary cache of buried Civil War-era gold have been fighting for access to government documents about an FBI dig at the remote Pennsylvania site.
The FBI has said it found nothing at Dent’s Run. Dennis and Kem Parada of Finders Keepers say the FBI is hiding the truth.
On Thursday, an appeals court ordered Pennsylvania state officials to produce their communications with the FBI about the excavation, which was conducted on state-owned land in Elk County. The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources had refused to provide the documents to Finders Keepers, citing a federal court order.
The state agency had no immediate comment on the ruling. It’s not clear whether it will appeal.
Historians have cast doubt on the claim that a shipment of Union gold was lost or stolen on its way to the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, but the legend has inspired generations of treasure hunters to take to the mountains of northwestern Pennsylvania in hopes of finding it.
The Paradas spent years looking for the fabled cache before zeroing in on the spot where they say their instruments detected a large metallic mass. They accompanied the FBI to the site on March 13-14, 2018, but say they were confined to their car while the FBI excavated.
The FBI said in a statement last year it “launched the court-authorized excavation of what evidence suggested may have been a cultural heritage site,” but that “nothing was found.”
The Paradas’ lawyer filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents on the FBI’s investigation into the gold. The agency initially claimed it had no files it could share, but after the Justice Department ordered a more thorough review, the FBI indicated last month that it had located nearly 2,400 pages of documents as well as video files. The FBI said it would likely need several years to compile the material and release it.
On the state level, meanwhile, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources claimed a sealed federal court order prevented it from releasing any documents on the FBI dig. After seeing the federal order for itself, the state Commonwealth Court declared Thursday it “does not protect or otherwise prohibit disclosure of communications between the FBI and the natural resources department regarding the excavation at Dent’s Run.”
Finders Keepers’ attorney, Bill Cluck, said his reading of the order is “they’ve got to produce whatever they got from the FBI.”