Silence is not golden. A treasure hunter is still in jail for not revealing the whereabouts of up to $4 million in gold coins. In 1988, research scientist Tommy Thompson, in jail since 2015, discovered the S.S. Central America, which sank off the coast of South Carolina in 1857 with thousands of pounds of precious metals aboard. A group of 161 investors had paid Thompson $12.7 million to find the so-called “Ship of Gold” and later sued him, claiming they never saw any returns. The former Ohio treasure hunter has refused since 2012 to reveal the location of 500 gold coins—worth between $2 million to $4 million—missing from the shipwreck.
He fled to Florida and was arrested in early 2015. Thompson pleaded guilty for his failure to appear in court in 2012 and was giving two years in prison and a $250,000 fine. As part of the plea deal, Thompson has to answer questions about the missing loot and must also “assist” interested parties in finding the coins. Thompson, 68, has now spent more than 1,700 days in jail and owes nearly $1.8 million in fines. He’s claimed he suffers from a rare form of chronic fatigue syndrome that has caused issues with his short-term memory. Lawyers for the investors who are still looking for their cash contend that Thompson has no one to blame but himself for his incarceration.