Jailed treasure hunter ordered to pay nearly $20 million

Local News

Jailed treasure hunter Tommy Thompson is ordered to pay $19.4 million dollars in compensatory damages to companies and individuals that bankrolled his expeditions in 1988, when he recovered millions in sunken treasure from ship that sank in 1857 off the coast of South Carolina.

The challenge, said the plaintiffs’ attorneys, is collecting the civil judgment.

During the course of the civil trial, which last nearly a month, witnesses revealed Thompson has about $4.1 million, plus 500 gold restrike coins valued at more than $2 million, tucked away in off-shore accounts.

Getting to that cash, said the plaintiffs’ lawyers, will be next to impossible.

For the former Battelle scientist, it’s back to jail. Thompson has been incarcerated for nearly four years on a criminal contempt of court charge. A Federal judge said Thompson will be released from jail once he produces those 500 gold coins, part of a plea deal years ago.

The jury did not award the plaintiffs punitive damages or money to cover millions in legal fees.

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