The Pennsylvania treasure hunters on a never-ending quest to find a legendary lost shipment of Civil War gold are suing the Feds for documents.
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., Dennis Parada, a longtime treasure hunter from Clearfield County, alleges that the FBI has failed to provide him with any records of the case of the Elk County gold, despite a FOIA request filed more than three years ago.
The FBI in Philadelphia spent days digging for gold at Dents Run, in rural Elk County, in March of 2018 based on decades of research by Parada and its own investigation. The FBI has been adamant that nothing was found in the excavation but Parada and his fellow treasure hunters say they do not believe the agency.
On May 18, 2018, the Paradas filed a FOIA request to the FBI and according to Anne Weisman, the D.C. attorney who filed the suit, the agency has yet to hand anything over.
“First they said, ‘We don’t have any records.’ Then we said, ‘We have too many records,’ ” Weisman said in an interview. “They have not produced a single record.”
The legend of the Elk County gold dates back to the summer of 1863, when a special Union detachment was tasked with transporting 26 gold bars, each weighing 50 pounds, from West Virginia to the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia. That detachment, as the story goes, was ambushed, the gold lost and supposedly buried.
In June, unsealed documents showed that the FBI believed there was gold at the site. The agency was also concerned that Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources could revoke its access to the site, on state land, and claim the gold was “abandoned property” and keep it.
Weisman said the lawsuit is seeking the immediate processing and disclosure of the documents, “at no cost to the plaintiff.”
Attorney William Cluck, who has represented the Paradas for several years, said there are more than 2,700 documents associated with the case.
Cluck said the treasure hunters are particularly interested in documents pertaining to analysis made geophysical consulting firm at the site that produced promising findings. That company, Cluck said, has repeatedly declined to comment about their involvement.
A spokesperson for the FBI did not return requests made Tuesday evening for comment.