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Ohio Treasure Hunter Agrees To Turn Over Gold Coins Worth $2.5 Million

Lon Horwedel
Columbus Dispatch/Associated Press
In this November 1989 file photo, Tommy Thompson holds a $50 pioneer gold piece retrieved earlier in 1989 from the wreck of the gold ship Central America.

Treasure-hunter-turned-fugitive Tommy Thompson, 66, has reached a deal to turn over 500 gold coins.  They are part of the riches he recovered from a shipwreck more than 30 years ago. 

About 100 investors gave Tommy Thompson around $22 million; more than 30 years ago, as he and a salvage crew recovered 3 tons of gold, silver and other valuable treasures from the shipwreck of the S.S. Central America. The items were valued at $100 million.

None of the investors ever saw any of the money.

In a court hearing this week, Thompson agreed to settle a civil lawsuit by handing over 500 gold coins. 

“Frankly, this is in our view his last opportunity, and he sees a very real risk of remaining the rest of his life incarcerated unless he produces,” says attorney Quintin Lindsmith.

Lindsmith says the 500 coins are valued at a total $2.5 million dollars.

Thompson has been in custody since 2015, when he pleaded guilty to criminal contempt. A federal judge ordered Thompson jailed until he agreed to cooperate and release details of the treasure's whereabouts.