Tommy G. Thompson moved a trove of gold from the Atlantic Ocean in 1988, but years later was accused by his investors of cheating them out of their cut of the loot, leading FBI agents on a large manhunt with the treasure hunter eventually being caught.
Thompson went from living in a Florida mansion with his partner to staying in expensive hotels under a fake name.
Home for the treasure hunter is now an Ohio jail cell until he owns up to where he stashed the gold.
The gold in question came from the SS Central America, which sank to the bottom of the sea during a hurricane in 1857, where it remained for 130 years. Along with at least three tons of California gold it took with it to the sea floor, 425 people also died.
At the time of recovering the gold, Thompson was an engineer from Columbus, Ohio who built an underwater robot capable of diving 8,000ft to pull up the treasure.
His crew was able to recover rare 19th century coins, the ship’s bell and “gold bars… 15 times bigger than the largest California gold bar previously known to exist,” according to the Chicago Tribune.
Aged 30 at the time, he put his work down to “a celebration of American ideals: free enterprise and hard work.”
His investors grew weary of his modest image and took him to court in the 2000s and Thompson was accused of selling most of the gold and keeping profits for himself.
After a federal judge ordered him to appear in court in 2012, Thompson didn’t show up and disappeared. An arrest warrant was issued and a two-year manhunt followed of what officials referred to as “perhaps one of the smartest fugitives” US marshals had ever pursued.
Peter Tobin, US Marshal for the Southern District of Ohio, said Thompson had “almost limitless resources and approximately a 10-year head start,” the Chicago Tribune reports.
After Thompson was eventually caught in January 2015, they did not find the treasure and the investors of the expedition were not happy. Thompson pleaded guilty to contempt of court months after being caught.
While his investors believe he stashed hundreds of gold coins in a secret trust account for his children, Thompson told authorities he thought the coins were in Belize and had agreed to reveal an exact location of the treasure.
Last month, however, his attorney revealed that his client couldn’t remember where the gold was.
The federal judge was not impressed and ruled that Thompson was “faking memory problems” and is now being fined $1,000 per day behind bars till he comes up with the treasure.
It doesn’t appear that Thompson will remember anytime soon, according to the Tribune.