Feds chase trea­sure hunter turned fugi­tive

The Covington News - - THE WIRE -

COLUM­BUS, Ohio (AP) — One of the last times any­one ever saw Tommy Thomp­son, he was walk­ing on the pool deck of a Florida man­sion wear­ing noth­ing but eye glasses, leather shoes, socks and un­der­wear, his brown hair grow­ing wild.

It was a far cry from the con­quer­ing hero who, almost two decades be­fore, docked a ship in Nor­folk, Vir­ginia, loaded with what’s been de­scribed as the great­est lost trea­sure in Amer­i­can his­tory — thou­sands of pounds of gold that sat in the ocean for 131 years after the ship car­ry­ing it sank dur­ing a hur­ri­cane.

On that day in 1989, Thomp­son couldn’t con­tain a grin as hun­dreds cheered his achieve­ment. But his vic­tory was short-lived.

For the past two years, the U.S. Mar­shals Ser­vice has hunted Thomp­son as a fugi­tive — wanted for skip­ping a court date to ex­plain to in­vestors what hap­pened to the riches. The rise and fall of the in­trepid ex­plorer is the stuff of sto­ry­books, a tale re­ceiv­ing re­newed at­ten­tion amid a new ex­pe­di­tion be­gun this year to the sunken ship.

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