A treasure hunter jailed for refusing to disclose where his fifth year behind bars is about to be marked by a secret £ 1.4 million haul of 500 missing gold coins.
Former deep-sea scavenger Tommy Thompson has been arrested on charges of contempt of court for an exceptionally long period of time.
As the research scientist declined to give up the location of his treasure, the normal 18-month limit in jail was ignored.
The bizarre case dates back to 1857, when with thousands of pounds of gold overseas, the S.S Central America sank off South Carolina.
In 1988, Thompson discovered the wreck of the Ship of Gold – and also discovered gold.
The discovery of the shipwreck led to an economic panic, CBS reported, but where the haul was located was never disclosed by Thompson.
The US government reports that the long-lost treasure is worth anywhere from $2 to 4 million (£1.4 million) and wants the diver to reveal where the boat was found.
But Thompson has not disclosed the location so far.
The legal woes of Thompson focused around 161 investors who invested $12.7 million to locate the wreck for him, never saw any revenue and sued him.
A federal judge in 2012 ordered Thompson to appear in court to reveal the location of the coins.
The treasure hunter, however, fled to Florida, where he stayed in a hotel with his longtime female friend.
U.S. marshals tracked him down and detained him in 2015. He pled guilty and was sentenced to two years in jail for his failure to appear in court.
He was hit with a $250,000 dollar fine as well and his sentence was postponed until the whereabouts of the coins were resolved.
In 2015, a judge found him in contempt of court and ordered him to remain in prison – and pay a $1,000-a-day fine – before he gave up the coins. Thompson declined many times.
The deep-sea diver told a judge at his latest hearing that he simply didn’t know where the coins were.
I feel as if I don’t have the keys to my freedom,” he said.”
The 68-year-old, who owes a whopping $1.8 million in fines, now suffers from a condition of chronic exhaustion that has caused short-term memory issues.
But the government claims that Thompson is refusing to comply and that his health and his willingness to reveal where the coins are are not related.