By CoinWeek News Staff ….
As part of the long-running legal saga involving former treasure hunter Tommy Thompson, attorney Ira O. Kane, the court-appointed receiver representing Recovery Limited Partnership and Columbus Exploration LLC, has asked a state judge in Ohio to approve the sale of gold recovered from the SS Central America shipwreck. If approved, the gold may sell for as much as $30 million USD.
The motion was filed on October 24.
Initially valued as being worth as much as $47 million, the 16,000 items actually include gold dust and gold bullion in addition to the gold coins. Attorney Kane has an arrangement with a company called California Gold Marketing Group LLC to sell the recovered coins, which could potentially allow Tommy Thompson’s investors to see the first returns on their investments in the nearly 30-year-old drama. Quintin F. Lindsmith, an attorney for Ira Kane, said that any money from the sale will go to creditors first, as mandated under Ohio law. Any proceeds then remaining would go to the investors: Odyssey Marine Exploration and Dispatch Printing Company. The Dispatch Printing Company is the one-time owner of The Columbus Dispatch, a newspaper that has done much reporting on the Thompson case since it began.
The sale would be structured. Seventeen million would be paid to the receivership, with $15 going to Odyssey to settle all the company’s claims. The Dispatch Printing Company would receive an initial $1.75 million, and the receivership itself would get $250,000. California Gold Marketing Group would have a year to pay the remaining $13 million, out of which the Dispatch Printing Company would receive the final $5.75 million it is owed. All other proceeds would go to the receivership.
Mr. Kane has served as the receiver of Thompson’s companies since 2013, after Thompson failed to appear at a 2012 hearing and fled to Florida with his companion Alison Louise Antekeier. The two hid out in a Boca Raton hotel until they were arrested by U.S. Marshals on January 27, 2015. The 2012 hearing was the result of a lawsuit brought against him by his investors and some members of his crew to recover their share of the profits from the discovery of the SS Central America shipwreck and the gold it famously carried on its ill-fated trip in 1857.
U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley has held Thompson in jail on civil contempt charges since December of 2015. In April 2015, Thompson reached a plea deal with the court and plead guilty to criminal contempt stemming from his failure to appear in 2012. He incurred the civil charges by not revealing the location of 500 gold coins he is alleged to have recovered on his first dive in 1988 and thereby violating the terms of his deal. While Thompson’s lawyers have made several motions to free their client on various grounds (jurisdiction, Thompson’s health, etc.), it has been determined that Judge Marbley can indeed keep Thompson in jail for an indefinite period of time. Nevertheless, if Thompson’s lawyers were successful in getting his civil contempt charge dismissed, he would still have to serve a two-year sentence for criminal contempt.
Prosecutors suspect that Thompson hid the gold in a private trust in the country of Belize, but so far Thompson refuses to cooperate and give his investors the power to look into it.
Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Laurel Beatty-Blunt will hold a hearing on Kane’s motion for all interested parties at 9 am Eastern on November 30.
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