A treasure hunter, originally from Defiance, and accused of cheating his investors out of their share of one of the richest treasure finds ever in U.S. history — $50 million in gold bars and coins from a 19th-century shipwreck — was captured by federal agents at an upscale Florida hotel after a search for the past two years.
Tommy Thompson was arrested this week at a Hilton Hotel in Boca Raton, Florida on a warrant that was issued for his arrest back in 2012 after he failed to show for a hearing that was held as part of a lawsuit brought on by some of his investors who allege he stiffed them.
The U.S. Marshals Service referred to the now 62 year old Thompson as “one of the most intelligent fugitives ever sought” , saying he used cash and other means to live his life under the radar.
Thompson was a 1970 graduate of Defiance High School. He made history back in 1988 when he discovered the sunken SS Central America, also known as the Ship of Gold, which went down in a hurricane about 200 miles off South Carolina in 1857, along with tons of gold from the California Gold Rush.
Thompson and his crew brought up about $50 Million worth of treasure from the wreck in 2000. But the investors who paid Thompson $12.7 million to find the ship never saw any of it.