By Beth Deisher
By mid-February, U.S. District Court Judge Robert B. Kugler is scheduled to sentence Jonathan A. Kirschner for his admitted crimes of falsely impersonating an agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and of unlawfully importing counterfeit coins and bars into the United States.
The charge of impersonating a federal officer carries a maximum potential penalty of three years in prison, and the charge of unlawful importation carries a maximum potential penalty of 15 years in prison.
Kirschner, also known as “Jonathan Kratcher,” will not be alone as he stands before Judge Kugler in the federal courthouse in Camden, N.J.
Some of Kirschner’s victims will also be in the courtroom, prepared to tell the judge firsthand how Kirschner gained their trust by engaging with them on Facebook and using a fake ATF badge to gain their trust before selling them counterfeit coins – both numismatic and bullion coins – and fake precious metal bars.
An expert numismatist who is a member of the Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force will also be present to explain to the judge how numismatic coins and bullion coins and bars are valued and to inform the judge that the counterfeit items seized from Kirschner’s home and packages addressed to him containing counterfeits seized by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service, had they been genuine, would have a current market value of more than $46 million.
In late January, the court created a new class of victims, which includes a dozen sovereign mints, private mints, and grading services. It invited them to file impact statements and claim damages to their brands, including violations of their trademarks and copyrights, caused by counterfeits of their coins, precious metals bars, and grading service holders Kirschner illegally imported into the United States.
Knowingly importing and selling counterfeit coins and precious metals bars are not “harmless” crimes and should not be treated as such by the courts. There are thousands of collectors, investors, and other market participants who also have been harmed by them but will not be physically present in the courtroom.
Judge Kugler needs to hear from them also in order to understand that they, too, have been harmed by Kirschner’s criminal acts and greed.
The source(s) of Kirschner’s counterfeit coins, bars, and fake third-party grading holders and inserts are counterfeiters in China. He knowingly established a business relationship with the counterfeiters to purchase and import into the United States counterfeit items and then sold counterfeits to defraud unsuspecting buyers, his fellow Americans.
Kirschner and other Americans who are willing partners in this Chinese criminal enterprise network are helping to disperse millions of counterfeit coins and precious metals bars into the U.S. coin market, causing alarm and distrust in the marketplace. Enough buyers are being victimized that trust in the coin market is being eroded and genuine coins and bars produced by government and private mints are being tarnished in the mind of the public.
Judge Kugler could send a powerful message to Kirschner, the Chinese counterfeiters, and all others who might be tempted to join the criminal counterfeiting industry by sentencing Kirschner to 18 years in prison, the maximum potential penalties for the crimes he has admitted to committing.
If you would like to add your voice to those asking Judge Kugler to order that Jonathan A. Kirschner receivs the maximum sentence, write to him using your company or personal stationery. If you, members of your family, or your friends have been defrauded by those selling counterfeits online or in person, tell the judge in your own words how counterfeiting and those involved in trafficking counterfeits have harmed you.
Address your letter to: Judge Robert B. Kugler, U.S. District Court, Mitchell H. Cohen Building & U.S. Courthouse, 4th & Cooper Streets, P.O. Box 889, Camden, NJ 08101-0889.
This “Viewpoint” was written by Beth Deisher.
She is director of anti-counterfeiting at the Anti-Counterfeiting Educational Foundation, a 501-c-3 non-profit organization that supports the work of the Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force. For information about ACEF/ACTF go to www.acefonline.org
To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to Editor, Numismatic News, 5225 Joerns Drive, Stevens Point WI, 54481. Send email to email@example.com.
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.
If you like what you've read here, we invite you to visit our online bookstore to learn more about Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1701-1800.