By CoinWeek News Staff ….
UPDATE, 11/16/2018: At the meeting between both parties on Thursday, November 15, Judge Blunt declared that Thompson had failed to meet the conditions of the settlement concerning delivery of the gold and that the jury trial will resume on Friday, November 16. Steven Tigges, attorney for the Dispatch Printing Company, plans to call Thompson to testify in the case. The settlement, according to the judge, may still be an option for Thompson, who will remain in Franklin County jail for the duration of the trial.
On Wednesday, November 14, former treasure hunter Tommy Thompson reached a settlement in Franklin County Common Pleas Court in Columbus, Ohio concerning the 13-year-old lawsuit brought against him by one of the original investors in his efforts to salvage the site of the 1857 wreck of SS Central America. The new agreement, in which Thompson will arrange for the relinquishing of 500 coins minted from gold bars recovered from the shipwreck, means that the 66-year-old Thompson will not have to testify in hearings that started on Tuesday, November 6, stemming from the civil lawsuit the Dispatch Printing Company first filed in 2005.
Common Pleas Judge Laurel Beatty Blunt is overseeing the case. A meeting was to be held in Judge Blunt’s courtroom at 3:30 pm Eastern on Thursday to determine the status of the handover. According to Quintin Lindsmith, attorney for the court-appointed receiver Ira Kane, if the gold was not transferred into Kane’s possession by 5 pm, then the deal was no longer valid. Thompson’s lawyer, Keith Golden, assured the court that his client would arrange for the transfer by phone on Thursday.
Kane was appointed receiver over the majority of the recovered treasure in 2013.
The deal should presumably put an end to the fines imposed upon Thompson by U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley in 2015. After Thompson’s arrest earlier that year and subsequent guilty plea to criminal contempt charges for not cooperating with authorities, Marbley charged Thompson with a $1,000 fine every day that the defendant did not give up the location of the 500 missing coins. Today, those fines total over $1 million. Lindsmith would like to see some portion of these fines go to both Kane and the Dispatch Printing Company.
Thompson was temporarily moved from a federal prison in Michigan to the Franklin County jail specifically for the current trial. Attending court in a wheelchair, Thompson still claims to have a chronic illness that is exacerbated by his incarceration in the federal facility.
Last Friday, on November 9, Thompson’s longtime assistant and accomplice Alison Antekeier, 50, testified that she did not know exactly where the coins were located at this time. According to her testimony, the last time Antekeier saw the gold was in 2010, when, on Thompson’s orders, she packed it into four or five suitcases to deliver to an unknown man at a self-storage facility in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She believes the coins may have been taken to Belize after that transfer, though the company alleged to have received them has no records of such a transaction. The duo first moved the coins from California to a safe deposit box in Jacksonville, Florida in 2006, the year after the lawsuit was filed.
Antekeier and Thompson were fugitives from 2012 through 2015 when the U.S. Marshals apprehended them at a hotel in Boca Raton. The original salvage effort of the Central America shipwreck, which Thompson led, recovered approximately three tons of gold and other treasure that garnered more than $40 million when it was sold in the year 2000. His investors were not paid and soon turned to the court for relief. The 500 gold coins that Thompson was known to have struck from some of the gold he exhumed went missing shortly thereafter.
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