The Northern Californian couple who found $10 million worth of gold coins on their land could be arrested according to California Law for failing to report their stunning discovery to police, it emerged today.
The mystery pair discovered the haul at their property in the Gold Country while out walking their dog. They stumbled across 1,427 rare, mint-condition gold coins, nearly all dating from 1847 to 1894, buried in the shadow of an old tree on their ranch in February 2013.
They have so far managed to remain anonymous despite worldwide media attention and fascinated locals desperately searching to uncover their identity.
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The face value, of what’s being called the ‘Saddle Ridge Hoard’, added up to about $27,000, but some of the coins are so rare that experts say they could fetch nearly $1million apiece, and are being sold by Amazon in a special deal in May.
But, according to Californian Law, the couple should have declared their findings to the police within a ‘reasonable time’ of finding it.
The Californian Civil Code, sub-section 2080, also states that a notice must go in the local paper if the haul is worth more than $250
It says: ‘If the reported value of the property is ($250) or more and no owner appears and proves his or her ownership of the property within 90 days, the police department or sheriff’s department shall cause notice of the property to be published at least once in a newspaper of general circulation.’
The code goes onto say that if no one comes forward within seven days, then the property will be retained by the person who found it.
When MailOnline contacted many of the local papers in the area where the find was believed to have been made, none had had been told.
The City of Auburn Police Department also said it had never heard from the couple and never investigated such a case.
The same was reiterated by the Placer Sheriff Department, which pointed us to the Californian Law regarding such a find. A spokesperson from its Evidence Department said they’d never heard of the couple or the gold coins.
Since the case has gone public, many local people in Gold Country have been convinced that the couple live close to the town of Auburn in the county of Placer.
But spokesmen for the sheriff’s departments in Amadour County, Nevada County, Sierra County, Tuolomne County, Calaveras County, El Dorado County and Mariposa County also said they believed they were not informed.
This would suggest that the couple, known only as Mary and John, are in breach of the Law and could face prosecution from the police.
But one of the leading gold experts in the area, Frank Sullivan, who owns Pioneer Mining Supplies, says there was great excitement in Auburn.
He said: ‘A lot of people are talking about it, it was a great find. Anytime you find a great cache like that, yeah, it’s going go all around the world. It’s definitely the talk of the town.’
Gold dealer Don Kagin, who is selling the coins for the couple, said: ‘They hired professionals to advise them in all these areas. They did what was required to do as far as I know.
‘Those are issues for professionals. We were not asked about this, these are not our questions to answer. They were advised professionally on a legal and tax stand point, and they have indicated to us they had followed the letter of the law. I was involved as a chief numismatic expert.
‘We have been told by the owners they fully intend to do what the law requires.’
In other developments, they could also face legal action from the US Government and the descendants of the original owner. Both the Treasury Department and the owner’s living relatives could stake a claim to the loot.