Legal battle mounts over aluminum penny

SAN DIEGO - A California man is mounting a legal battle against the federal government to keep a penny. But it's no ordinary penny. It's a rare aluminum one that's been in Randy Lawrence's family for 40 years.

Having just moved to California from Denver, Lawrence went to a coin shop in La Jolla.

"I had this coin collection since he died," said Lawrence.

He being his father, who worked at the Denver Mint as a supervisor for 20 years.

"He had amassed a number of coins through that time that he had been given," said Lawrence.

Among them is a 1974 aluminum penny. Thousands were made, but then Congress said don't use them.

Most were recalled and melted, except the one from Denver. Lawrence, had actually sold the coins to the La Jolla shop whose owner discovered how rare it was. Then they got a letter from the government which said they wanted it back.

"You go from that high to this sudden extreme low and even if you didn't know this could happen you don't realize it until it does and then it's disappointing," said Lawrence.

Not about to take this lying down, Lawrence and the shop owner, Mike McConnel, contacted a lawyer, who KGTV-TV contacted by phone in Los Angeles.

"Joe Biden got two of them. As far as I know he hasn't given them back," said attorney Armen Vartian.

In fact, there is one other aluminum penny in private hands, and Vartian said they haven't been asked to give it back.

"That they don't have any right to them seems absurd," said Vartian.

Lawrence said to auction it will serve a higher purpose than have it sit on a shelf in a museum.

"It will do so much more good if we are allowed to auction this coin and give a chunk of money to charity," he said.

That's still the goal, which for now is on hold.


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