Admiralty & Maritime Law

Deep-sea treasure hunter stays in jail as judge awaits ‘epiphany’ about 500 gold coins

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Arrested in Florida in January 2015 after several years on the lam, deep-sea treasure hunter Tommy Thompson pleaded guilty a few months later to contempt of court for failing to appear before a federal judge in 2012 and answer questions.

But before he can even begin serving his two-year criminal contempt sentence, the 63-year-old must somehow resolve the ongoing civil contempt case concerning the whereabouts of the coins and other gold from an 1857 shipwreck off the coast of South Carolina that are said to be worth millions, according to the Associated Press, the Columbus Dispatch and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

As part of his plea deal in the criminal contempt case, Thompson agreed to provide details about the treasure. He says he told all he knows in depositions last year. However, a federal prosecutor—and the judge—are doubtful that he did.

At a Monday hearing in Columbus, Ohio, U.S. District Court Judge Algenon Marbley told Thompson he’d hoped for an epiphany concerning the gold coins and other treasure. But no further information was forthcoming.

“I said what I know about them,” Thompson told the judge. “There can’t be an epiphany.”

Marbley gave Thompson another 60 days in the civil contempt case. He is also racking up $1,000 per day in fines, in addition to $250,000 imposed as part of his criminal contempt sentence, the news articles recount.

“As long as you are content to be a master of misdirection and deceit to the court, I am content to let you sit,” Marbley told Thompson.

He is represented by attorney Karl Schneider, who said in court that he is trying to settle the case.

Related coverage:

Washington Post (sub. req.): “How treasure hunter Tommy Thompson, ‘one of the smartest fugitives ever,’ was caught”

See also:

ABA Journal: “Attorney helps protect against shipwrecks’ plunder”

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