Tommy Thompson, man who discovered SS Central America shipwreck, arrested in Florida

Members of the U.S. Marshals Service made the arrest at a hotel in Palm Beach County
By , Coin World
Published : 01/28/15
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Fugitive treasure hunter Tommy Thompson, the man who discovered the SS Central America shipwreck, has been arrested in Florida after two years on the run, according to CBS News and other media outlets.

Thompson was found by the U.S. Marshals Service at a hotel in Palm Beach County along with “longtime companion" Alison Antekeier, CBS reports. The Columbus Dispatch reports the arrests were made on Tuesday.

The pair appeared before a judge in West Palm Beach Wednesday, according to the Dispatch. Thompson will appear again on Thursday. Antekeier will return on Feb. 4.

LATEST: Extradition likely for fugitive treasure hunter Tommy Thompson and his assistant

U.S. Marshals in Columbus provided a lead as to the whereabouts of Thompson and Antekeier that led to the arrest, the Dispatch reports. The pair failed to appear for 2012 contempt hearings in U.S. District Court in Columbus.

"They had been ordered to appear by Judge Edmund A. Sargus Jr. as part of a lawsuit over the treasure that Thompson found from the SS Central America shipwreck. Sargus issued bench warrants for their arrest," the Dispatch report reads.

VIDEO: Watch how Tommy Thompson's hometown is covering his arrest

The Central America, dubbed the “Ship of Gold,” sank approximately 160 miles off of the coast of South Carolina in September 1857 and was one of the largest documented shipments of gold ever lost at sea. 

Thompson’s Columbus-America Discovery Group discovered the wreck in 1987, 7,200 feet below the surface. Recovery operations began in 1989 and more than a ton of gold, silver and other artifacts valued at more than $400 million were recovered over the next several years, including 7,500 Coronet double eagles.

Thompson had for years been embroiled in legal battles over the Central America pertaining to investors in his Columbus Exploration LLC investors who said they were shut out from profits related to the recovery effort.

After years of inaction due to the legal proceedings, Odyssey Marine Exploration restarted recovery efforts in 2014 after being awarded an  exclusive contract to recover the remaining cargo last March.

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