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The Enemy Downtown series.
The Buczek Affair.
(Scroll to bottom of article for Aug. 13, 2008 update on the article.)

Derby, New York businessman Dan Buczek 55, and 7 family members and friends were enjoying an evening out like thousands of other Buffalo, New York area hockey fans on Dec. 26, 2005—cheering their favorite Buffalo Sabres on to victory over the New York Islanders. During the course of the evening, Buczek's daughter Amanda and her boyfriend, Joel Lattuca went to the HSBC refreshment stand to buy a beer and a hotdog. And that's where the Buczek family trouble began that evening. Amanda Buczek asked the refreshment stand vendor if he accepted Liberties—as the Buczeks quite often do when frequenting a new retail spot since, in the Southtowns area, close to 30 businesses now accepted Liberties. They do so for only one reason. They believe Liberties are actually worth more than the US currency that is, by law, legal tender in America since the American dollar has not been backed by gold or silver since 1971.

And, since most of the people who use Liberties don't know whether or not a business accepts the privately-minted silver coins or certificates as barter currency unless or until they ask—they generally inquire. If the business says they don't, they do what you and I do—they pay for the products or services they are buying with greenbacks (the Federal Reserve banknotes that were created by the Roosevelt Administration on June 5, 1933 when newly elected Franklin D. Roosevelt unconstitutionally removed US currency from the gold standard with the Gold Repeal Joint Resolution that illegally canceled the gold clause in all federal and private debt obligations}.

Our monetary system would not officially be divorced from the gold standard until 1971 when President Richard Nixon signed the 'divorce decree' (that was artfully buried in the Bretton-Woods Agreement). Gold and silver were no longer specie. They simply became a commodity. In doing so, Nixon and the Democrats that controlled Congress violated the Constitution since the only way our monetary system could legally be divorced from gold and silver was through a constitutional amendment (according to Article 1, Section 10). For that matter, the Federal Reserve Act, signed into law on Dec. 23, 1913, was also unconstitutional since the Founding Fathers very carefully and very deliberately penned into the Constitution of the United States a provision—Article 1. Section 8—that prevented the nation's politicians from surrendering the power to "coin" money to private individuals. (It is important to understand that in 1787, all money was coin. While copper and bronze were used in some coins, the primary coinage was gold or silver. Paper money, used only in national emergencies, was called scrip. Scrip was redeemable in gold or silver at the end of whatever crisis allowed it to be printed. When the monetary powers were surrendered to the private bankers at the Fed, they argued that "coining" money and "printing" money were two entirely different facets of creating money, and that only the coining of money was reserved for the government. In point of fact, when the Constitution was ratified, all money was coin. Today, the US Mint coins the pocket change we carry, and private bankers print the trillions of dollars that is circulated as legal tender.) The victims of this theft were—and are—the American people.

Most Americans are unaware that when America's bankers and industrialists deliberately caused the Bank Panic of 1908 in order to "prepare" America for the legislation that would create a privately-owned central bank called the Federal Reserve System, the 16th Amendment to legalize an income tax and the 17th Amendment to eliminate the States from the equation of power, the bankers also attempted to ratify as the 18th Amendment a resolution remove the nation's monetary system from the gold standard. But not even those who favored silencing the voice of the States in the governing process, or creating the right to impose an income tax on its people were willing to debase its monetary system. Congress could not muster the votes needed to send the proposed 18th Amendment to the States for ratification.

The Buczeks, like a growing number of anti-fiat Americans across the nation have discovered—and now use—an alternative form of "money" called "Liberties." Liberties are silver coins or silver certificates that, unlike the contemporary American dollar produced by the Federal Reserve System that is legal tender, are actually backed by silver—and have an actual net worth equal to its face value. Because thousands of Americans are now using them, and because an increasing number of businesses throughout the United States are accepting them, the Buczeks generally ask the merchants wherever they shop if they take Liberties when they purchase goods and services. And, that was what led Amanda Buczek to asked the food vendor at at the Sabres hockey game if they accepted Liberties.

Because the vendor did not accept "Liberties," Amanda Buczek paid for the beer and hot dogs with a Federal Reserve Note. As Joel Lattuca carried the beverages his girlfriend had just purchased back to her family, neither realized they were being followed by off-duty Buffalo Police Detective Edward Cotter. When Cotter began to interrogate Amanda and Joel about what he thought might be counterfeit coins, Dan Buczek interjected himself into the discussion by asking Cotter who he was and what he wanted with his daughter. Cotter replied that he was head of security for the HSBC stadium, and he wanted to see the coin she was trying to use with the concession people. At that moment, Shane Buczek, Dan Buczek's eldest son joined the group and asked what was wrong. Cotter demanded to know who he was. As Dan Buczek produced his driver's license, Shane produced an Apostille badge. (An apostille badge is commonly used by notary publics. It is not a badge in the sense that police officers carry tin or bronze shields. It's simply an official ID card encased in a hard see-through plastic holder. Many times today it is used by people whose driver's license has been suspended. Shane Buczek would later be accused by Cotter as posing as a federal agent and using his Apostille ID badge as his government ID card. According to those close to the Buczek case, Shane's apostille ID was issued by his church are were his ministerial credentials.)

When he saw Shane's "badge," Cotter 'trumped" him by producing his own Buffalo detective's shield, "I'm a Buffalo detective," Cotter said, "I'm off duty—and, I'm the head of security here." He told the Buczeks to "come with me." The Buczeks followed Cotter to an exit hallway near Section 316 where Cotter then ignored Amanda Buczek and Joel Lattuca—who had already given him one of the Liberty coins—and concentrated his wrath on Shane. "Where did you get this f*cking coin?" Cotter demanded, then looking at Shane, insisted on knowing if he was "...the same f*ckin' Shane Buczek that knows Billy Crawford"—another Buffalo police officer. Years before Shane Buczek chummed around with several Buffalo police officers, Billy Crawford being one of them. Buczek insisted at that time that he was asked by Crawford to help the police in a sting operation. But, when the sting was over, Shane Buczek found himself in the county lockup. Buczek insisted the cops had tricked him into letting them use his credit card, and it was their signatures, not his, on the transactions they bought—and kept. Whatever the true details of that incident are, Shane Buczek served county time; and bad blood existed between Buczek and the Buffalo Police Department—except, it seems, with Billy Crawford whom the Buczek's claim still owes Shane over $13,000 from the scam sting.

"I've been looking all over this f*cking stadium for you all night," Cotter told Shane, adding that he'd received reports from several vendors at the stadium that people were trying to buy beer with counterfeit coins—claiming the coins were worth $100 each. Cotter called the Buffalo police department for back-up to take the Buczeks into custody. Cotter accused Dan and Shane Buczek of trying to sell what he described as phony coins. (And, of course, Cotter—who didn't know Shane Buczek was at the hockey rink until he identified himself shortly after 8 p.m.—wanted Shane to believe that Cotter knew the coin "scam" was his, and that he'd been looking for him all evening.)

Buczek explained that his daughter Amanda had tried to use the coins to pay for beer, as did two of his sons—Adam and Caleb. At no time, he said, did anyone try to sell anything to anyone—particularly since the value of the coins are imprinted on the reverse side of the Liberty and nobody would pay $100 for a coin clearly valued at $20. IN addition, Buczek explained to Cotter, the coins were not counterfeit money. They were privately-minted Liberties that many storekeepers in that area accepted as money.

Many Southtown businesses accept Liberties as cash. Daniel Hyman, owner of the Red Apple Convenience Store said that "...about 20 of my regular customers use them. They pay me with silver and they accept silver as change. With inflation and government deficits, I see more and more people who don't trust paper money anymore. Eventually, I hope the banks will accept Liberties for deposit." Shawn Clawges, owner of Openers' Grille in East Aurora admitted they also take the Liberties "...at par with dollars. They're a pretty coin, and they're backed with silver. It's a commodity that's going up in value—unlike the US dollar."

All his children were doing, Buczek concluded, was trying to see if any of the beer vendors at the stadium accepted Liberties. Cotter continued to curse at Buczek as he cuffed him, saying, "You South Buffalo guys think you're tough—but you f*cking' G**d*mn Timon boys ain't that tough now, are you?" Cotter pulled the cuffs, jerking Buczek off balance, adding caustically: "I should tear your hair piece off your head!"

Cotter searched Dan Buczek and emptied his pockets, taking his comb, cell phone, his Sabres ticket—which Buczek wanted to save as a souvenir—his billfold plus several $20 Silver Liberties. Amanda, Adam and Caleb Buczek and Joel Lattuca—all of whom attempted to pay for beer or hotdogs with the silver liberties—were not detained. Only Shane Buczek and his father were arrested. They were charged with felony possession of forged instruments (the silver liberties). Shane Buczek was also charged with criminal impersonation when Cotter claimed the younger Buczek represented himself as a federal official with his Apostille ID card. When Buczek received his belongings back upon his release, he was so glad to get out of the hellhole jail, he scribbled his signature on the release form, grabbed his belongs and left. When he got home he discovered that there was $100 missing from his wallet and all of the $20 coins—which Cotter decided were either contraband or evidence of counterfeiting—were gone as well.

While he was in custody, Cotter accused Dan Buczek of stealing his Sabres ticket. Buczek was able to prove that his cousin had purchased the ticket. The Buczeks were detained at the HSBC stadium by Cotter and Buffalo police officers Jill Halor and George Wagner from 8:05 p.m. until 9:45 p.m. At that time, Dan and Shane Buczek were finally escorted from the stadium in handcuffs. They sat in a police cruiser for approximately 35 minutes. They were read their Miranda rights at 10:15 p.m. in front of the Buffalo Police Station after being grilled and threatened by Buffalo police officers for 2 hours and 5 minutes. It should be noted that at the time of their detention, and later arrest on felony charges, none of the Buczeks had done anything that should have merited scrutiny from the police—let alone the abusive treatment they received at the hands of "Buffalo's finest." Detective Edward Cotter's interest in the Buczeks was purely personal. He used his badge and his authority as a police officer to harass someone he disliked. Hopefully Internal Affairs will investigate Edward Cotter and pull his badge. This man should not be a police officer.

When the story hit the Buffalo News the following day, Erie County District Attorney Frank J. Clark said the felony charges—which should never have been filed—would be reduced before the case went to trial. The case was scheduled to go to trial on Thursday, Jan. 26. Instead, in a hearing before the city court, the charges were reduced to misdemeanors, and the trial scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2006. However, when the "people," represented by Assistant District Attorney Molly Jo Musarra appeared in Erie County Court, they weren't ready to pursue the prosecution of Dan and Shane Buczek. She asked the court for another week. Defense attorney James Ostrowski threw in an additional week since he realized the immensity of the task before the prosecution—trying to build a case out of the fable handed to her by Cotter. However, when Ostrowski asked for the judge to return the bail his clients had been forced to post to get out of jail, Musarra objected although she was not quite sure of the legal basis for her objection. Clearly, the defendants weren't about to flee from the jurisdiction of the court—and even Musarra wasn't clear enough what laws they had broken to pursue her case in court without another week or two to ponder her options. Since they were arrested on Dec. 26, 2005, the Buczeks have been in court six times and they still don't know the nature of the charges against them. That will be decided on Feb. 15. Maybe.

As Cotter tried to cover his tracks by pushing for the prosecution of the Buczeks on anything the DA could make stick, he called the Buffalo office of the Secret Service and asked for an agents to investigate the counterfeiters he had locked up. Michael C. Bryant, special-agent-in-charge sent one of his agents to see Cotter. The Buffalo detective was disappointed to learn that no counterfeiting had taken place. Bryant told the media that "...we did send an agent to question [the Buczeks], but we determined this was not a counterfeiting case. Counterfeiting is when someone illegally makes a copy of actual US currency.."

"Liberties are not made by the government," said Michael J. White, a Treasury spokesman noted. "No business is required to accept Liberties," adding that while businesses are not required to accept Liberties as payment for goods and services, there are no laws preventing them from doing so if they want. Liberties, like any other numismatic you own, are assets that must be included in your net worth for tax purposes.

The Buczeks were placed in nine different holding cells over the 26 hours they were detained as Cotter used every trick he knew to find a charge that would stick. He told told Dan Buczek he would "...send your son up the river for a long time." Cotter even offered to set Dan Buczek free if he would testify against his son. Testify to what? The Buczeks were required by Erie County Judge Joseph A. Fiorella to post bail of $2,500 each—a total of $5,000—to get out of jail. Fiorella thought the bail was reasonable due to the seriousness of the crime. Deborah Buczek, the wife of Dan Buczek, posted the bail for her husband and son at 12:22 p.m. Cotter held up the release of Dan and Shane Buczek until sheriff's deputies pushed him to turn in the paperwork. Finally, after enduring 26 hours of Hell, two innocent men walked out of the Erie County Sheriff's Department lockup. As far as I can determine, there was only one guilty person in this sorry affair. And, he still wears a detective shield for the Buffalo Police Department. His name is Ed Cotter.

At the time of the confrontation between Cotter and the Buczek family on Dec. 26, Ed Cotter was the hands-on favorite candidate to become Buffalo's next police commissioner. Most of the Buffalo media favored Cotter as well since the Cotter name is well known and respected in both the Buffalo police and fire departments. But, the mayor had other ideas. On Feb. 5, 2006, Buffalo's mayor announced the appointment of former Buffalo police officer H. McCarthy "Mac" Gipson as the city's new police commissioner, leaving Cotter out in the cold. it's nice to see that Buffalo's mayor was not taken in by Ed Cotter and his family's stellar reputation. Bad cops make bad chief's of police even when their grandfathers have fireboats named atter them.

According to Bernard von NotHaus, the CEO of Liberty, more and more businesses in "pocket communities" across the country are beginning to accept the privately-minted, shiny Liberties as an alternate form of barter even though the coins are not legal tender and cannot be regarded as money. Quite naturally, the US Treasury does not approve their being in circulation and does everything it can to discourage people from using them. However, since the Liberties are not represented as US coinage, they are recognized as "collectibles"with a par value that the US government grudgingly tolerates.

Addendum to the story: After serving a 3-month sentence in the Erie County Correctional Facility last year stemming from his conviction on misdemeanor criminal impersonation and harrassment charges, Shane Buczek of Derbty, New York and his father, Daniel, saw their convictions overturned on Thursday, July 3, 2008. The elder Buczek, a Derby, New York businessman, was granted a conditional discharge and ordered to perform 150 hours of community service in lieu of jail time for the incident that took place in the HSBC arena in 2005. Shane Buczek was charged with attempting to fight with off-duty police officer and HSBC Arena security guard Ed Cotter.

Erie County Circuit Court Judge Michael F. Pietruszka overturned their convictions because the trial judge, Buffalo City Court Judge Sharon M. LoVallo, failed to advise tthe Buczeks of the inherent dangers of using the same lawyer. In his ruling, Judge Pietruszka said that "...allegations of accomplice liability and differences...[in the legel of alleged culpability of the Buczeks suggested they had]...different defense theories and tactics open to them." According to the Buffalo News on July 4, "...Pietruszka chided LoVallo for not ensuring both knew the dangers of a single attorney representing both, and said she should have gotten both to make a knowing voluntary waiver of the conflict inherent in that type of representation." The City of Buffalo has the option to retry the Buczeks.Since both men have already served their sentences, retrials would merely add cost to the city's already strained budget. However, in the case of the Buczeks, the city fears a lawsuit, so it will be interesting to see if the city's new prosecuting attorney, Frank Sedita, attempts to try the Buczeks again even though they have already paid for their "crime."

In a further aside it should be noted that with respect to the Liberty Dollar, which was what initiated the conflict between the Buzceks and Cotter, at around 8 a.m. on November 14, 2007 a dozen FBI agents raided the offices of Liberty Dollar in a strip mall in Evansville, Indiana and confiscated everything in the office—including two tons of commemorative Ron Paul coins. In a search warrant presented to the employees of Liberty Dollar, FBI Special Agent Andrew Romagnuolo and Secret Service Agent David Stefanich and 10 other federal officers seized everything in the building except empty desks and chairs.

Atr the same time another wararnt was exercised against the Sunshine Mint in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho. The silver used to back the paper Liberty Dollars was stored in a vault in Coeur D'Alene. Every piece of metal in both offices was seized that day—including paper clips and staples. Well, once again, you have my two cents worth on this subject. Until next time...





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