Finders Keepers filed a federal suit against the Justice Department for failing to produce documents regarding the FBI's search in Northwestern Pennsylvania for legendary gold nearly four years ago.
Their lawyer Wednesday stated that the FBI has resisted requests for records under the Freedom of Information Act from treasure hunters.
Anne Weismann representing Finders Keepers said that there has been "a pattern of behavior from the FBI" that is very troubling. She asked if the agency was acting in good faith.
The Justice Department received a message asking for comment. It asked for a judge's order to have the FBI immediately turn over the records.
Dennis Paradas and Kem Paradas, Finders Keepers' owners, had spent many years searching for the source of what was, according to legends, an 1863 shipment containing Union gold that was either lost or stolen while it was on its way to Philadelphia. They focused their efforts on the spot where their instruments detected large metallic masses.
The FBI brought in a contractor equipped with more advanced instruments to meet with the treasure hunters. According to an FBI affidavit, which was not sealed last year by news organizations including The Associated Press, the contractor discovered an underground mass that weighed as much as nine tons and had the same density of gold.
Although the FBI took the Paradas to Dent's Run about 135 miles (220 km) northeast of Pittsburgh to excavate, they claim that they were kept in their car as the FBI worked.
Although the FBI insists that the March 2018 dig was unsuccessful, the FBI has repeatedly obstructed the Paradas' attempts to get information.
Initial statements by the FBI claimed that they had no records about the investigation. After a thorough review by the Justice Department, the FBI declared that its records were not subject to public disclosure. In the wake of the appeal by the treasure hunters, the FBI stated that it had found 2,400 pages of records, 17 video files, and that it could turn them over, but it would take many years.
Finders Keepers requested expedited processing from the Justice Department. This is possible in cases of widespread media interest that raise questions about the integrity of the government. According to the lawsuit, the Justice Department denied the request and had not yet assigned the FOIA request for processing to a staffer as of last month.
Weismann stated that "From the beginning, it seems like the FBI is doing all it can to avoid answering question whether they actually found any gold."