(Sanders' "Washington Nugget"...ooops! I mean Cox's "Orange Roughie.")
A Convoluted Tale
Well lo and behold...it seems this convoluted tale of potential intrigue and actual fraud just refuses to go away and maybe that's the way it should be. Like the book Alice in Wonderland, the story of the half-million dollar "Washington Nugget" just gets "curiouser and curiouser."
Is there collusion somewhere in this tale of a dirty deed gone wrong? I'll let you, my readers, decide. There is much to be gleaned from the comments and perspectives in this post as well as a follow-up post to come. So read carefully.
Anonymous Commenter at "Bedrock Dreams:"
"I think you will find this scam/fraud would come under some breach of the law. It's no different than those Nigerian e-mail scams that say they have many millions and just need a bank account to deposit it into. Total BS, just like this situation. Sanders isn't the only one in on this blatant attempt to defraud people of their monies."
The key players in this sordid little affair are, once again:
Murray Cox and Reggie Wilson, the Aussie nugget hunters who blew the cover off this fraud;
Jim Sanders (a.k.a. James Sanders Grill), the known liar and scammer (among other things...) who said he recovered this once-in-a-lifetime find on his property near Nevada City, California.
Fred Holabird, mining geologist and president of a nifty little company calling itself Holabird-Kagin Americana which is in the business of selling (would you believe??) historical "rarities."
Don Kagin, coin dealer, auctioneer and business partner of Fred Holabird. Would you believe it was Kagin who auctioned off the "Washington Nugget" after his business "pard" Holabird verified its authenticity? (Noooooo, REALLY??)
Associate Press Excerpts
Here are some excerpts from an Associated Press (AP) story on this whole mess. I've underlined passages I found highly "interesting" and salient to the fraud and scam aspects of this ill-conceived hoax:
"After Jim Sanders' 'find' on his property near Nevada City, California made news last year, Australian prospector Murray Cox compared pictures of Sanders' 'Washington Nugget' with the 'Orange Roughie' he unearthed near Melbourne in 1987. They were an exact match, except the 'Washington Nugget' sold for $460,000 and Cox originally sold the 'Orange Roughie' for $50,000."
"Cox contacted Don Kagin and Fred Holabird who together had auctioned off the nugget for Sanders. The two investigated Cox's claims and determined he was right."
J.R.: So two experts, one in mining history and geology, the other in rare coins and historical Americana, can only make a determination of this AFTER THE FACT (when they've been caught with their proverbial pants down?). I guess they were just a couple of nice-guy, "babes in the woods" types trying to eke out a living in a cut-throat business where you better know your stuff or else. (Sorta makes you wonder doesn't it?)
(A positively beaming Fred Holabird [left] holding up the...hmmm....which was it now? "Washington Nugget" or "Orange Roughie?")
"As for exactly how Sanders got his hands on the Aussie gold chunk? The dealers (Holabird and Kagin) said confidentiality agreements barred them from elaborating on this."
J.R.: Well that's damn convenient, don't you think? It reminds me of the accused taking the 5th Amendment in a court room.
Now let me think a bit....If Fred Holabird and his business partner (partners?) could sell a $50,000 nugget for nearly half a million they wouldn't stand to gain anything would they? Oh, and Jim Sander's slice of the action wouldn't include wayyyyyyyyy overinflated prices for his Nevada City property would it? Especially since California property values have tanked so badly in the last few years? Nawwwwwww...what am I thinking?!
Gold Panning Kits
Boy oh boy, there's much more on this stinky mess to come, so stay tuned. In the meantime, start practicing your detective or prosecutor's skills...something just ain't right here.
If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Striking It Rich:' the Two Aussies Were Right After All!"
(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2011
Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org