Treasure Hunter Has to Stay in Jail Until 'Epiphany'

'It is the season of miracles,' judge says of deep-sea explorer's 'memory loss'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2016 4:26 AM CST
Treasure Hunter Has to Stay in Jail Until 'Epiphany'
This photo provided by the Delaware County Sheriff's Office in Ohio shows Tommy Thompson.   (Delaware County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

Tommy Thompson is a shipwreck explorer believed to know the location of a fortune in gold coins—but he can't spend them in Ohio's Delaware County jail, and he's not getting out until he reveals where they are. The treasure hunter has been held on a contempt charge since December last year and on Monday, a federal judge ordered another round of depositions in which Thompson could divulge the location of 500 gold coins worth up to $4 million from an 1857 shipwreck discovered in the '80s, the Columbus Dispatch reports. "I hope that in this season of giving, Mr. Thompson will find it within himself to give," Judge Algenon Marbley said, predicting that Thompson, who claims memory loss, might experience an "epiphany," the Washington Post reports. "It is the season of miracles," Marbley added, per the AP.

Thompson went on the run in 2012 after investors who funded his search for the wreck of the SS Central America accused him of selling $50 million in gold and keeping the profits for himself. He said the coins were in Belize and agreed to reveal their location in a plea deal months after he was recaptured in 2015, but he later said he'd forgotten whom he'd given them to, the Post reports. The judge ordered the fresh depositions after Thompson and his lawyers had more than a month to review 12,500 pages of documents on the treasure in the hope of jogging his memory. A defense attorney told Marbley that Thompson still "has nothing further to say." (When he was recaptured, Thompson was carrying more than $400,000 in cash, and more.)

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