Stumble in Bizarre Case of $750 Billion in Bonds

     PHILADELPHIA (CN) – A Pennsylvania man says he still hopes to “repatriate” 750 U.S. bonds allegedly worth $1 billion apiece, despite a recent dismissal by a federal judge.



     Though U.S. District Judge Mary McLaughlin said Joseph Riad waited too long to claim that a rogue Homeland Security agent stole 15 of his $1 billion bonds, there are allegedly 735 more stashed in a bank vault outside Philadelphia.
     “Our position [that the bonds are authentic] doesn’t change,” said Riad’s attorney, Al Iacocca of West Chester, Pa. “We’ve got the science behind it.”
     Iacocca rejects the Department of Homeland Security’s claim that the 15 confiscated bonds are fake.
     A former high-ranking security official with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas authenticated the bonds after an inspection, the lawyer says.
     The docket contains a report purportedly from that man, Kermit Harmon. The document says Harmon examined the bonds with “a level of due diligence well above superficial, but not with laboratory precision.”
     Messages left at phone numbers listed for Harmon were not returned.
     McLaughlin dismissed Riad’s case as untimely without broaching the issue of bond authenticity.
     Assistant U.S. Attorney Gerald Sullivan declined to comment on the case, but intimated in a brief that the bonds are bogus.
     He cited a Chicago case filed in 2000 over a Spanish man’s claim to $25 billion in supposed federal bonds.
     A 7th Circuit judge called that now-dismissed claim “preposterous.”
     Claims to mega-value bonds are not new.
     The Secret Service calls them “fictitious,” as opposed to “counterfeit,” instruments, saying their incredible face values make them so obviously fake that there is little chance achieving deception.
     A spokesperson for the Secret Service declined to comment on the Riad case, but Bloomberg reported in January that the agency handles about 100 fictitious instruments cases annually, resulting in roughly 70 arrests.
     Riad told Courthouse News that he works in the gold-buying business. He claims a representative of the South African government gave him the bonds to settle a debt.
     Iacooca says his client simply wants a formal government assessment and report concerning authenticity.
     “Riad has been trying to reach for many years a resolution of the veracity of … the bonds,” he said.
     “We have never gotten a formal declaration.”
     “I have direct expert reports, direct evidence that they are real, and documents that can be further inspected,” Iacooca said.
     Riad said federal agencies and legislators have spent years shuffling his attempts to return the bonds.
     He said he’d like 1 to 5 percent of their face value for turning them in.
     “I’m gonna have to be dealt with sooner or later,” Riad said.

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