A treasure hunter has accused the FBI of a coverup as a dispute over the search for a Civil War-era gold stash continues to play out in court.
Dennis and Kem Parada, a father-son treasure-hunting duo called “Finders Keepers,” believe that newly released documents and video pertaining to the FBI’s search of Dents Run, Pennsylvania, show that the federal agency has not been completely straightforward about their search for gold.
“We feel we were double-crossed and lied to,” Dennis Parada told the Associated Press in an interview, though he says he believes that “the truth will come out.”
The dispute hinges on the Paradas’ belief that gold, part of an 1863 shipment of Union gold intended for the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, ended up buried about 135 miles northeast of Pittsburgh after a potential train robbery. The gold, if found, has a current estimated value of $55 million.
After years of research, the Paradas led the FBI to the suspected location of the gold at Dents Run which the agency searched in 2018. The FBI said the dig came up empty though the Parada has remained skeptical.
“I will stick at this until the end, until I know everything that happened to that gold,” he said. “How much, where it went to, who has it now. I gotta know.”
New videos and images from the search obtained by Parada through a Freedom of Information Act request shed new light on the 2018 search and have raised more questions for Parada.
“We’ve identified through our investigation a site that we believe has U.S. property, which includes a significant sum of base metal which is valuable … particularly gold, maybe silver,” a Philadelphia-based FBI agent said in the video.
Parada says he thinks the agency may have dug overnight when the search was supposed to be on hold and moved the gold, though the FBI has said it never dug at night. In 2018, locals told the AP that they had heard digging equipment at work throughout the night and that the hill where the gold was suspected to be was lit up.
Another question raised by Parada and consultant Warren Getler is about why a photo of a large boulder said to be taken after a snowstorm began had no snow on it. “We have compelling evidence a night dig took place, and that the FBI went to some large effort to cover up that night dig,” Getler, a Civil War gold researcher, said.
A recent legal filing from Parada also alleges a number of other problems with the FBI’s response to his inquiry for more details on its search of Dents Run. The filing says that Finder’s Keepers was not given any video of the dig’s second day, did not provide details on a 30-foot-long trench that is mapped at the site, and claimed that a report given to them on the dig seemed to be missing pages.
According to Anne Weismann, a lawyer for Finders Keepers, the records given to the group “cast doubt on the FBI’s claim to have found nothing and raise serious and troubling questions about the FBI’s conduct during the dig and in this litigation, where it has gone to great lengths to distort critical evidence.”
A judge will determine if the agency will be required to respond to the treasure hunter’s latest request.