AP

Another delay for ex-deep-sea treasure hunter stuck in jail

Jan 24, 2022, 8:58 AM | Updated: Jan 28, 2022, 9:50 am

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The long-running case of a former deep-sea treasure hunter marking his sixth year in jail for refusing to disclose the whereabouts of missing gold coins has hit yet another roadblock.

Research scientist Tommy Thompson has been held in contempt of court since Dec. 15, 2015, for that refusal. He is also incurring a daily fine of $1,000. A hearing held Monday in hopes of helping draw the case to a conclusion ended with a federal judge giving Thompson two months to find a new attorney ahead of yet another hearing.

Thompson’s case dates to his discovery of the S.S. Central America, known as the Ship of Gold, in 1988. The gold rush-era ship sank in a hurricane off South Carolina in 1857 with thousands of pounds of gold aboard, contributing to an economic panic.

Despite an investors lawsuit and a federal court order, Thompson, 69, still won’t cooperate with authorities trying to find 500 coins minted from some of the gold, according to court records, federal prosecutors and Algenon Marbley, the judge who found Thompson in contempt.

Thompson has previously said, without providing details, that the coins — valued at about $2.5 million — were turned over to a trust in Belize. After Thompson failed to appear for a 2012 Ohio hearing to discuss the coins, U.S. marshals eventually tracked him to Florida in 2015 and arrested him.

Thompson pleaded guilty in April 2015 to skipping that hearing and was sentenced to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine. But his criminal sentence has been delayed until the issue of the gold coins is resolved.

Thompson, who has gone through several attorneys, is currently housed in a federal detention center in Milan, Michigan. Thompson told Marbley on Monday that he’s having trouble finding a secure phone or computer connection to discuss his case with potential attorneys. A message seeking comment was left with the facility.

Thompson also said he continues to suffer the effects of systemic exertional intolerance disease, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis or chronic fatigue syndrome, which also affects his short-term memory.

“It’s hard to explain the number of roadblocks,” Thompson said. “I don’t rest on my laurels; I’m working all the time here. It’s hard to communicate here.”

Marbley gave Thompson until March 21 to find an attorney to argue pending motions Thompson has made, including for compassionate release because of concerns about the spread of the coronavirus behind bars.

“None of us wants this matter to drag on interminably,” Marbley said.

Federal law generally limits jail time for contempt of court to 18 months. But a federal appeals court in 2019 rejected Thompson’s argument that that law applies to him, saying his refusal violates conditions of a plea agreement.

On Jan. 14, the largest S.S. Central America ingot ever offered at auction, an 866.19-ounce find known as a Justh & Hunter ingot, sold for $2.16 million through Dallas-based Heritage Auctions.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Arizona and New York attorneys feud over extraditing suspect...

Associated Press

Why Alvin Bragg and Rachel Mitchell are fighting over extraditing suspect in New York hotel killing

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell says she isn't into extraditing a suspect due to her lack of faith in Manhattan’s top prosecutor.

3 days ago

A Gila monster is displayed at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Dec. 14, 2018. A 34-year-old Color...

Associated Press

Colorado man dies after being bitten by pet Gila monster

A Colorado man has died after being bitten by his pet Gila monster in what would be a rare death by one of the desert lizards if the creature's venom turns out to have been the cause.

4 days ago

Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

11 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

12 days ago

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, right, and Kenya's Defense Minister Aden Duale, left, listen during...

Associated Press

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hospitalized with bladder issue

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been hospitalized following symptoms pointing to an “emergent bladder issue."

13 days ago

Joel Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church, stands with his wife, Victoria Osteen, as he conducts a...

Associated Press

Woman firing rifle killed by 2 off-duty officers at Houston’s Lakewood Church run by Joel Osteen

A woman entered the Texas megachurch of Joel Osteen and started shooting with a rifle Sunday and was killed by two off-duty officers.

14 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

Another delay for ex-deep-sea treasure hunter stuck in jail