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Author Topic: Tommy Thompson arrested in a hotel room  (Read 898 times)

space otter

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Tommy Thompson arrested in a hotel room
« on: January 30, 2015, 08:02:35 PM »


A quest for sunken gold ends with mastermind's arrest in a hotel room


By Ben Brumfield, CNN

Updated 6:19 PM ET, Thu January 29, 2015


CNN)—Tommy Thompson was an ocean explorer, an entrepreneur, an author and a diver for sunken gold.

So when he dropped off the map in 2006, many wondered what had happened.

The feds say they know. Thompson, they say, was also a multimillion dollar scammer who went on the lam rather than pay back his investors after he found millions in treasure at the bottom of the Atlantic.

To cover their tracks, Thompson and Alison Antekeier, his girlfriend, used false names, the U.S. Marshal Service said. And they allegedly paid for everything in cash.

They likely had plenty of it.

Speculations of what the gold loot was worth, and money they allegedly hijacked from investors, have run into the hundreds of millions.



The Marshal Service finally caught up with the pair Wednesday. They found Thompson in a room at a Florida Hilton hotel, where he and his girlfriend had hidden in plain sight for a year.

He will appear in a Florida federal court Thursday.


Sunken treasure obsession


Thompson, an oceanographic engineer from Columbus, Ohio, was fascinated by the SS Central America, a side-wheeler steamship that sank off the coast of North Carolina in 1857.

More than 400 people drowned in the throes of the hurricane that wrecked it.

Officially a mail ship, it had left San Francisco flush with coins, bars, nuggets and dust just a few years after the California Gold Rush. Tons of it, Thompson wrote in a book about his quest.

He was determined to scour the depths of the ocean for its loot with a cutting edge robotic submarine.

 

Seeking investors


In the 1980s, he began infecting investors with his dream, and they fronted him funds to help him realize it, according to a report by Forbes Magazine. The report put his unconfirmed fundraising target at $55 million.

He spent it on a team of scientists, engineers and crew, who sailed aboard a ship equipped with sonar and the robotic submarine, which they called Nemo.

And Thompson hired historians, who documented the ship's history and artifacts.

Years later, Nemo arrived at the ocean floor at the wreck of the Central America. Some of the gold, which lay sunken for over a dozen decades, made its way to the surface.

In 1998, Thompson published photos of it and other artifacts in America's Lost Treasure, full of scholarly and technological details. He commissioned a documentary, Forbes wrote, and sought the attention of the media.


Disappearing act


Then, a few years later, in 2006, he disappeared.

His stakeholders feared he had run away with their investments and with perhaps even more millions made from the sale of gold coins.

They sued, but he and Antekeier skipped out on multiple hearings, the U.S. Marshal Service said. Counsel representing them stood in court without them.

In 2012, federal authorities issued arrest warrants for the couple. Thompson and Antekeier ducked out of sight, and were last spotted in Vero Beach in 2013.

"It appears they have known they were wanted and were doing anything they could do to cover their tracks," U.S. Marshal Barry Golden told CNN affiliate WPTV.

As officers tracked Antekeier on Tuesday, she allegedly went from a taxi to a bus then walked about a mile on foot.

The couple read up on how to evade authorities, and it worked, the feds said. Marshals investigated around the globe for them.

Then on Wednesday, they found them in the West Palm Beach hotel room. Thompson and Antekeier told officers they knew they had been searching for them.

The couple went with marshals peaceably.

CNN's Dave Alsup contributed to this report.



http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/29/us/florida-treasure-hunter-nabbed/


   .........................................


Treasure Hunter Who Found a Fortune in Gold Is Captured

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Jan 28, 2015, 7:26 PM ET

By AMANDA LEE MYERS and ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS Associated Press


A treasure hunter accused of cheating his investors out of their share of one of the richest hauls in U.S. history — $50 million in gold bars and coins from a 19th-century shipwreck — was captured at an upscale Florida hotel after more than two years on the lam.

Federal marshals tracked Tommy Thompson to a Hilton in West Boca Raton and arrested him Tuesday. A warrant had been issued for him in 2012 in Columbus after he failed to show up for a hearing on a lawsuit brought by some of his backers.

The U.S. Marshals Service called him "one of the most intelligent fugitives ever sought" by the agency and said he relied on cash and employed other means to stay under the radar. Authorities gave no details on how they found him.

Thompson, 62, made history in 1988 when he discovered the sunken SS Central America, also known as the Ship of Gold.

The sidewheel steamer went down in a hurricane about 200 miles off South Carolina in 1857; 425 people drowned and tons of gold from the California Gold Rush was lost, contributing to an economic panic.

In a modern-day technological feat, Thompson and his crew brought up thousands of bars and coins, much of them 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 the proceeds. Two sued — a now-deceased investment firm president and the company that publishes The Columbus Dispatch newspaper and had invested about $1 million.

Thompson was arrested on the civil contempt warrant issued in August 2012 and a criminal contempt warrant, which was issued in spring 2013 but was only made public on Wednesday.

Columbus attorney Rick Robol, who at one time defended Thompson's company, has said there is no proof Thompson stole anything. He said Wednesday that he has been concerned about Thompson's health, calling the arrest "the best thing that can happen for everybody."

Thompson was arrested along with his longtime companion, Alison Antekeier. The pair had been paying cash for the hotel room, rented under a fake name used by Antekeier, marshals said. The hotel is in an upscale suburban area surrounded by golf courses, country clubs and gated communities.

Federal marshals said that the pair had no vehicles registered in their names and that Antekeier used buses and taxis to get around.

After the arrest warrant was issued, Thompson vanished from his Vero Beach, Florida, mansion, where a search found prepaid disposable cellphones and bank wraps for $10,000 in cash, along with a book titled "How to Live Your Life Invisible," according to court records. One marked page was titled: "Live your life on a cash-only basis."

The couple made initial court appearances Wednesday in West Palm Beach. Authorities will seek to return Thompson to Ohio.

Gil Kirk, former director of one of Thompson's companies, told The Associated Press last year that Thompson never cheated anyone. Kirk said proceeds from the sale of the gold all went to legal fees and bank loans.

———

Myers reported from Washington.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/fugitive-treasure-hunter-nabbed-florida-year-hunt-28545204
« Last Edit: January 30, 2015, 08:12:13 PM by space otter »

space otter

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Re: Tommy Thompson arrested in a hotel room
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2015, 10:06:13 PM »

http://www.bbc.com/news/32227348



Fugitive US treasure hunter Thompson pleads guilty


6 hours ago

 From the section US and Canada



Tommy Thompson - seen here in 1988 - went missing in 2012 after failing to appear in court




A US treasure hunter - who spent years evading authorities - will go to prison rather than testify about gold he discovered in a historic shipwreck.

Tommy Thompson was arrested on a criminal contempt warrant for evading a civil case brought by his investors.

They accuse him of cheating them out of promised proceeds from one of the biggest shipwreck hauls in US history.

In 1988 Thompson recovered millions of dollars' worth of gold from a ship that sank off the US coast in 1857.

Thompson went missing in 2012 amid demands he appear in court. He and an associate, Alison Antekeier, were arrested in January in Boca Raton, Florida.




They had been at the hotel for two years, paying cash for their room under a false name and using taxis and public transport to avoid detection.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that Thompson's plea deal with prosecutors requires him to turn over $425,380 (£286,000) to the court, money that was seized when he was arrested.

Under the deal, Thompson will be sent to prison for no more than two years, but in exchange the government will not charge him with other offences arising from the case.


The SS Central America sank to a depth of 2.2km (1.3 miles) in 1857 during a heavy storm while sailing from Panama to New York





The SS Central America was carrying gold bars that were intended to prop up cash-strapped American banks



A total of 161 investors had given Mr Thompson $12.7m (£8m) to find the ship on the understanding they would see returns on their investment.

Thompson, then an oceanic engineer at Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, and his crew brought up thousands of bars and coins in 1988, much of them later sold to a gold marketing group in 2000 for about $50 million.

But the criminal complaint unveiled in January said the gold bars and coins he recovered from the seafloor were worth up to $400m (£260m).

One of the investors has asked an Ohio state judge to freeze all of Thompson's assets.

Offline zorgon

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Re: Tommy Thompson arrested in a hotel room
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2015, 01:33:51 PM »
So he goes to jail for no more than TWO years... then gets away scot free with the rest of the loot...

Pretty sweet deal :D

 


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