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Tommy Thompson: Fugitive treasure hunter to appear in Florida court

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Treasure hunter Tommy Thompson is scheduled to appear in a Florida court following his arrest after two years on the run.

Tommy Thompson was arrested on a criminal contempt warrant for evading a civil case brought by his investors.

They accuse Tommy Thompson, 62, of cheating them out of promised proceeds from one of the biggest shipwreck hauls in US history.

In 1988, Tommy Thompson, bankrolled by financial backers, recovered millions of dollars’ worth of gold from a ship that sank off America’s coast in 1857.


The treasure hunter, whom the US Marshals Service have called “one of the most intelligent fugitives ever sought”, was arrested in a luxury hotel on January 27.

Tommy Thompson had been living in the Hilton suite in West Boca Raton, south Florida, with an associate, Alison Antekeier, who was also arrested.

They had been at the hotel for two years, paying cash for their room under a false name and using taxis and public transport to avoid detection.

Room rates at the hotel start at $224 a night, according to the hotel’s website.

Tommy Thompson and Alison Antekeier are due to be extradited to Ohio, where a civil arrest warrant was issued in 2012 after Thompson failed to attend a court hearing centering on the lawsuit brought by his investors.

Previous reports have estimated Tommy Thompson’s haul, aided by sonar and robotic technology, at about $50 million. This was the amount he received for selling most of the haul to a gold marketing group in 2000.

The criminal complaint unveiled on January 28 said the gold bars and coins he recovered from the seafloor were worth up to $400 million.Tommy Thompson treasure hunter SS Central America

A total of 161 investors had given Tommy Thompson $12.7 million to find the ship on the understanding they would see returns on their investment.

Two of the investors later sued – a now-defunct investment firm and the Dispatch Printing Company which publishes The Columbus Dispatch newspaper, AP news agency said.

Tommy Thompson went into seclusion in 2006, living in a mansion in Vero Beach, Florida. He went on the run in 2012.

According to the criminal complaint, he and Alison Antekeier used 12 different mobile phones and paid rent with damp bank notes that they had buried underground.

A book called How to Live Your Life Invisible was found at the Vero Beach mansion, marked at a page entitled “Live your life on a cash-only basis”.

Gil Kirk, a former director of one of Tommy Thompson’s companies, told AP last year that the treasure hunter had not cheated anyone, and that the proceeds from the gold sale were spent on legal fees and bank loans.

The SS Central America sank in a hurricane about 200 miles off the South Caroline coast in September 1857, killing 425 people and contributing to an economic panic with the loss of its gold.

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