A treasure hunter locked in a legal battle over one of the greatest undersea hauls in American history has been arrested in Florida after more than two years on the lam, authorities said today. The US Marshals Service tracked Tommy Thompson to a Hilton hotel in West Boca Raton and arrested him yesterday. Authorities didn't immediately explain how they were finally able to track down Thompson, whom they called "one of the most intelligent fugitives ever sought by the US Marshals." Thompson made history in 1988 when he found the sunken SS Central America, also known as the Ship of Gold. In what was a technological feat at the time, Thompson and his crew brought up thousands of gold bars and coins from the shipwreck.
Much of that was later sold to a gold marketing group in 2000 for about $50 million. The 161 investors who paid Thompson $12.7 million to find the ship never saw returns from the sale. Two of them sued, and in 2012, a federal civil arrest warrant was issued in Columbus, Ohio, after Thompson failed to show up to a key court hearing. Babtist said Thompson was arrested along with his longtime companion, Alison Anteiker, and the couple had been staying in a two-person suite at the Hilton for two years. Thompson was set for an initial appearance in federal court tomorrow in West Palm Beach, while Anteiker was scheduled for an extradition hearing Feb. 4. No criminal charges have been filed against Thompson, but Babtist said the treasure hunter will likely be ordered held in custody until he appears before an Ohio judge to give an accounting for the gold's sale and his actions. (What he left in his Florida mansion upon vanishing: a book called How to Live Your Life Invisible.)