A U.S. research scientist jailed since 2015 for refusing to disclose the location of 500 gold coins recovered from a historic shipwreck has doubled down on his lack of co-operation with government officials.
Former deep-sea treasure hunter Tommy Thompson, 68, has been held in contempt of court for more than 1,700 days – far exceeding the typical 18-month internment limit, according to a Dec. 14 report from the Associated Press (AP).
Thompson’s case centres on his discovery of the S.S. America – known as the “Ship of Gold” – in 1988.
“The gold rush-era ship sank in a hurricane off South Carolina in 1857 with thousands of pounds of gold aboard, contributing to an economic panic,” reads the recent AP story.
More than 160 investors paid Thompson $12.7 million US to find the ship; however, they never saw any proceeds and sued.
Despite an investors lawsuit, a federal court order and nearly $1.8 million US in fines, Thompson told federal Judge Algenon Marbley he was unaware of the coins’ location at his latest hearing.
Ordered to stay in jail and pay a daily $1,000 US fine since 2015, Thompson remains housed in a federal prison in Milan, Mich.
Government officials claim the coins are worth upwards of $4 million US.