Judge: Ex-deep sea trea­sure hunter de­cep­tive about coins

Jamaica Gleaner - - INTERNATIONAL NEWS -

COLUM­BUS, Ohio (AP): AN EX-DEEP sea trea­sure hunter is fak­ing mem­ory prob­lems and in­ten­tion­ally de­ceiv­ing au­thor­i­ties about the lo­ca­tion of missing coins minted from gold on board an 1857 ship­wreck, a fed­eral judge has ruled.

Tommy Thomp­son has been held in con­tempt of court since mid-De­cem­ber last year, when Judge Algenon Mar­b­ley found he vi­o­lated a plea deal by re­fus­ing to re­spond. Thomp­son also was or­dered to pay US$1,000 per day un­til he co­op­er­ates.

Thomp­son has said he told ev­ery­thing he knew dur­ing de­po­si­tions last fall and ar­gued he could not pro­vide more com­plete an­swers, in part, be­cause he suf­fers from a neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­or­der. He also said he could re­fresh his mem­ory by re­view­ing doc­u­ments in 75 boxes held by the US Mar­shals Ser­vice, but that he had not been al­lowed ac­cess to that in­for­ma­tion, ac­cord­ing to court records.

Psy­chi­atric eval­u­a­tions and re­sults of a Septem­ber court hear­ing show Thomp­son is not suf­fer­ing from a con­di­tion that would pre­vent him from com­ply­ing with his plea deal, Mar­b­ley said in a rul­ing.

A test by a court-or­dered psy­chi­a­trist turned up mi­nor mem­ory prob­lems, the psy­chi­a­trist said in a sealed doc­u­ment, part of which Mar­b­ley quoted in his or­der.

Thomp­son “rou­tinely made ref­er­ences to things that demon­strated his re­ten­tion of in­for­ma­tion from min­utes and hours ear­lier, he re­mem­bered things from one day to the next, he re­called as­pects of his var­i­ous cases with great speci­ficity, and he re­called in­for­ma­tion about his ca­reer and busi­ness ad­ven­tures dat­ing back decades,” ac­cord­ing to the eval­u­a­tion.

A mes­sage was left on Mon­day with Thomp­son’s at­tor­ney. Mar­b­ley has sched­uled an up­date hear­ing for to­day.

The coins in ques­tion were minted from gold taken from the SS Amer­ica, which sank in a hur­ri­cane off South Carolina in 1857.

Thomp­son pre­vi­ously said, with­out pro­vid­ing de­tails, that the coins were turned over to a trust in Belize. The govern­ment, which be­lieves the coins are worth mil­lions of dol­lars, has doubts on Thomp­son’s ex­pla­na­tion. A fugi­tive from Ohio since 2012, Thomp­son was ap­pre­hended in Jan­uary 2015 along with his long-time fe­male com­pan­ion at a ho­tel where he was liv­ing near Boca Ra­ton, Florida.

Thomp­son pleaded guilty in April of last year to con­tempt of court for fail­ing to ap­pear be­fore a fed­eral judge in 2012. Part of his plea deal re­quires him to an­swer ques­tions in closed-door ses­sions about the where­abouts of the gold coins.

BEN­JAMIN NE­TANYAHU

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