Father-Son Treasure Hunters Sue FBI, Say They're Avoiding Questions on Dig for Gold

Father and son treasure hunters who believed they found legendary lost Civil War-era gold in the woods of Pensalvayna are suing the FBI for documents about the excavation.

Dennis and Kem Parada, the owners of Finders Keepers, filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department because they have not handed over documents yet regarding a search the FBI did for the treasure at a dig site they claimed they found first.

The duo searched for years to find legendary Union gold lost or stolen in 1863 on its way to the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia. Finally, they believe they found the site where the treasure was buried after their tools detected a large mass underneath them in the woods of northwestern Pennsylvania.

The Parada's met with the FBI in 2018 and told them about what they think they found. Authorities brought a contractor with higher-tech equipment than what Finders Keepers had and surveyed the area.

According to an FBI affidavit, the contractor detected something underground where the pair said they would. The contractor said whatever was underneath them had a similar density to gold and would have weighed up to nine tons.

The Paradas went with the FBI when they planned to excavate the mysterious item but said they were forced to stay in the car the entire time.

The FBI claimed they didn't find anything, including the buried treasure, when they dug up the site. The Paradas aren't so sure. They claim the FBI has avoided giving them any information about the dig. The FBI initially said there were no records to hand over, then tried to say the records weren't public disclosure, but an appeal to that revealed that there are, in fact, 2,400 pages of records and 17 videos, but they said it "would take years" to turn them over.

"From the outset, it seems as if the FBI is doing everything it can to avoid answering the question of whether they actually found gold," Finders Keepers' attorney Anne Weismann said.

Now, Weismann says, the FBI is dragging its feet answering the Freedom of Information Act request for records. She questioned whether the agency was acting "in good faith."

treasure hunters finders keepers gold
In this September 20, 2018, photo, Dennis Parada, right, and his son Kem Parada stand at the site of the FBI's dig for Civil War-era gold in Dents Run, Pennsylvania. The treasure hunters have filed suit against the Justice Department over its failure to produce documents related to the FBI's 2018 search for Civil War-era gold at the remote woodland site. Michael Rubinkam/Associated Press

After the Paradas believed they found it, they accompanied the FBI to the site in Dent's Run, about 135 miles (220 kilometers) northeast of Pittsburgh in March 2018.

"There's been a pattern of behavior by the FBI that's been very troubling," said Weismann.

A message was sent to the Justice Department seeking comment on the suit, which asks a judge to order the FBI to immediately turn over the records.

Finders Keepers asked the Justice Department for expedited processing, which can be granted in cases where there is widespread media interest involving questions about the government's integrity. The Justice Department denied the request—and, as of last month, had yet to assign the FOIA request to a staffer for processing, according to the lawsuit.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Treasure Hunters Sue FBI
Treasure hunters who believe they found civil-era gold are suing the FBI after for documents about an excavation at the site. Above, a hoard of Roman coins from AD 160 on display at the British Museum in London, England. The gold aureus coins were found in 1911 during an excavation at Corbridge Roman Town in England. Robert Alexander/Getty Images