Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Judge Questions Provenance of Gold Coins That Gypsies Want To Use To Bail Out Family Member

This is an odd one. A gypsy family brings in some gold coins and gold jewelry to bailout a family member and the judge questions the provenance of the gold. Even after a scholar is brought in to testify about the appreciation gypsies have for gold.  It's a good thing the family didn't attempt to use bitcoins for the bailout NyPo has the details:
There were Liberty gold coins and Krugerrands, and a gold chain so thick that had it been used as a restraining device, it might have done a fair job of keeping Tom Eli behind bars.

But the purpose of the gold baubles, chain included, was exactly the opposite: Mr. Eli’s Romany family sought to use them as collateral for his $50,000 bail, to secure his release from Rikers Island.

And therein lay the reason for an unusual hearing on Monday at State Supreme Court in Manhattan, as prosecutors sought to challenge the provenance of the jewelry.

Mr. Eli’s lawyer grew indignant that his client had to spend another night on Rikers simply because the judge was not convinced that the man’s family had obtained the pile of gold lawfully.

With the defendant’s mother, a 72-year-old retired carnival worker and part-time palm reader, still sitting in the witness box, the judge firmly reminded the lawyer that a prior associate of the defendant’s showed up with $50,000 in cash to cover the bail, but changed his mind when he learned that there would be such a hearing.

“Poof, he disappeared,” said the judge, Charles H. Solomon. “So something’s fishy, obviously. That certainly makes me suspicious.”

Prosecutors say Mr. Eli, 41, slashed a man outside 230 Fifth, a nightclub in the Flatiron district, on April 14.

Mr. Eli’s lawyer, Thomas A. Kenniff, waged an anthropological argument: After centuries of being chased from country to country, the Roma, sometimes called Gypsies, have developed an aversion to traditional institutions, including banks, and have their own internal economy. He said he feared that his client was being treated differently from similarly situated people because of his background.

Mr. Kenniff called to the stand Dr. Ruth Andersen, who has studied the Romany people since the 1970s, and said that many who live in the United States still follow ancient traditions, including passing down gold coins and necklaces as heirlooms, and owning those pieces communally.

“Their gold is heirloom gold,” Dr. Andersen said. “If someone was desperate and had to sell the gold for money, they would be heartbroken. There are many Romany people who would sooner starve.”

Next came the defendant’s mother, Lulu Eli Costello, who testified that she had obtained the jewelry from various relatives at her wedding in 1962 and from the in-laws of her sons when they married through the years.

“I hold on to them, like security,” she said.

She said she was born in Jasper, Tex., and then moved around a lot. She began working at fairs and carnivals, in games and concessions, when she married.

“We used to cover a lot of states, all over,” she said. “Every week was in a different spot.”

Read more here.


  1. They should pawn the gold to get the cash to post bail.

  2. If I read the story right, the problem with pawning is that the prosecutors are alleging that the collateral was obtained illegally. Gold or cash, doesn't matter. Prosecutors want to put the person supplying the money on the stand and ask where he/she got the cash/gold. That, in fact, is happening over the gold, and the judge is disbelieving the testimony. Story doesn't report the outcome of the hearing.

  3. The near-term path of least resistance for gold appears to be lower and a base for gold prices may be forming around $1,600.

  4. someone was desperate and had to sell the gold for money, they would be heartbroken