Former Treasure Hunter Still in Jail for Allegedly Refusing to Reveal Location of Gold Worth Millions
The battle started in 2012 when a federal judge ordered Thompson to appear in court to disclose the whereabouts of the coins, but Thompson fled to Florida.
A former deep-sea treasure hunter is about to mark his fifth year in jail as he allegedly continues to refuse to reveal the location of 500 missing gold coins— worth millions of dollars— to authorities, the Associated Press reported. Research scientist Tommy Thompson reportedly promised 161 investors, who paid him millions, to find the gold that sank with a ship during a hurricane off the coast of South Carolina in 1857.
Thompson reportedly found the ship, called the Ship of Gold, in 1988. Now, Thompson is being held in contempt of court for allegedly refusing to tell authorities where the loot is. Usually jail time for the offense only lasts 18 months, but Thompson still won’t cooperate, despite a federal court order.
The battle started in 2012 when a federal judge ordered Thompson to appear in court to disclose the whereabouts of the coins, but Thompson fled to Florida, the Associated Press reported. He was tracked down by U.S. marshals and arrested in 2015. Thompson then pleaded guilty for his failure to appear in court and was sentenced to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The prison sentence is delayed, however, until the the gold issue is figured out.
The plea deal presented to Thompson, 68, requires him to disclose in closed-door court sessions the location of the gold, which is worth between $2 million and $4 million, according to the AP. Officials said Thompson has refused to do so, but maintains that he doesn’t know where the coins are. Thompson also claims he suffers from a form of chronic fatigue that has created short-term memory problems, the AP reported.
He was ordered to stay in jail and pay $1,000 daily. He now owes nearly $2 million in fines. Last year, a judge rejected his appeal to have the contempt of court order maximum prison time of 18 months apply to him, according to reports.
Thompson's request to be released over coronavirus concerns was also denied.
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