A Treasure Hunter Found 3 Tons of Sunken Gold — and Can’t Leave Jail until He Says Where It Is!
Tommy G. Thompson happens to be one of the greatest treasure hunters during his time. In 1998, the dark-bearded diver hauled a trove of sunken gold from the Atlantic Ocean. It was dubbed the richest find in the history of the United States.
Years later, Thompson was accused cheating his investors out of the great discovery. He led the federal agents on a great manhunt. He was pursued from his Mansion in Florida to a mid-hotel room which he had booked under a fake name.
Thompson is currently living in an Ohio jail cell where he is held until he says where the gold is located. His beard has now turned grey.
For almost two nears now, nobody has managed to make the now grey-bearded man to disclose what he did with his fortune.
The wreck of the S.S. Central America had been waiting for 130 years for Thompson to come along. The steamer wrecked during a hurricane in 1857, killing 425 people onboard and at least three tons of California gold.
Many explored the sea floor of South Carolina in an attempt to find the gold. It is the young, shipwreck-obsessed engineer from Columbus, Ohio, who crafted an underwater robot dubbed “Nemo” which pinpointed the Central America. He the dived 8,000 feet under the sea and brought the loot to the surface.
According to the Columbus Monthly, Thompson recruited more than 160 investors to finance his expedition. For years, he studied the ship’s fateful voyage and came up with the technology to plunge deep in the ocean and retrieve its treasure.
Thompson’s crew managed to pull up the ship’s bell, gold bars, and rare coins that were used in the 19th century. According to a 1989 report by the Chicago Tribune, the gold bars were 15 times bigger than the largest California gold bar previously known to exist.
A year later, The Washington Post reported that 95% of the wreck site remained unexplored. The gold alone was potentially worth $ 400 million. The treasure trove happens to be richest in the American history while the deep water salvages effort is the most ambitious ever undertaken in the history of the world.
The expedition’s loot got the country’s attention, as well as the peculiarities of its leader. Thompson was a scientist-seafarer who was working on nuclear submarine systems prior to his expedition.
During the years-long recovery, Forbes wrote “Thompson is not exactly the romantic, swashbuckling sort.”
At the height of his fame in late 30s, Thompson could say very little in public and tended to make his role in the discovery insignificant.
In 1989, he told reporters that the gold was part of the largest treasure trove in the American history. Noting that the history of the S.S. Central America was a rich part of the country’s cultural treasury, he added that it was a celebration of American ideals of free enterprise and hard work.
However, some bankrollers had long before started to paint a different picture of Thompson.
Two of the biggest investors had sued Thompson in 2000s, claiming he sold the gold and kept all the profits to himself. He didn’t show up in 2012 when ordered by a federal judge to appear in the court. An arrest warrant was issued but he had already disappeared.
This prompted a 2-year manhunt for Thompson who was living in a Florida mansion with his girlfriend. He was paying rent with cash that was wet and moldy from the ground where it had been buried. By the time authorities found his house, the couple had already fled.
According to government records, they had left behind cellphones, money straps stamped “$10,000” plus a guide titled “How to be Invisible.” The latter was a guide on how to evade law enforcement.
In January 2015, Thompson was arrested after agents tracked his girlfriend to a night hotel near West Palm Beach, according to The Post.
Tobin issued a celebratory statement saying that the U.S. Marshals had used all the resources and ingenuity to track the treasure hunter.
Unfortunately, they didn’t find the gold.
Thompson’s investors, who expected to make millions of dollars from the expedition, said that it is possible he had hundreds of gold coins in secrete trust accounts for his children. Their search for the coins was promising in the beginning.
In April 2015, Thompson pleaded guilty to contempt of court. He said the coins were in Belize and was willing to show their exact location.
But that never happened.
According to a statement issued from Thompson’s attorney, Thompson could not recall the person he gave the coins.
A federal judge ruled that Thompson was faking memory issues, and has been living in an Ohio jail cell for one year. According to the Associated Press, Thompson might stay behind bars until he talks. In the meantime, he is being fined $1,000 daily.