SS Central America
From Mail Online
A former deep sea treasure hunter is allegedly faking memory problems to avoid revealing the location of missing coins minted from gold he discovered in an 1857 shipwreck.
Tommy Thompson rose to fame decades ago when he discovered the sunken SS Central America, better known as the Ship of Gold, in 1988. But now Thompson - who was on the lam for three years - is behind bars, and allegedly refusing to reveal the location of 500 gold coins said to be worth millions.
Thompson has been held in contempt of court since December 2015 for violating a plea deal in which he was required to answer questions about the coins' location.
But a federal prosecutor said Thompson's answers were evasive and concerning during the first hearing in October 2015. At the next hearing, he refused to cooperate at all and a judge also ordered him to pay $1,000 a day until he decides to cooperate.
The former treasure hunter has maintained that he suffers from a rare form of a chronic fatigue syndrome that has created problems with his short-term memory and made it harm for him to provide complete answers. Thompson also said he could refresh his memory by reviewing documents in 75 boxes held by the US Marshals Service, but that he hadn't been allowed access to that information, according to court records.
But on Thursday a judge ruled that psychiatric evaluations prove that Thompson's isn't suffering from a condition that would prevent him from complying with his plea deal. A test by a court-ordered psychiatrist turned up minor memory problems, the psychiatrist said in a sealed document, part of which the judge quoted in his order.
Thompson 'routinely made references to things that demonstrated his retention of information from minutes and hours earlier,' the evaluation read.
'He remembered things from one day to the next, he recalled aspects of his various cases with great specificity, and he recalled information about his career and business adventures dating back decades,' it continued.
Thompson previously said that the coins had simply been turned over to a trust in Belize, a claim the government does not believe. He is now waiting to serve a two-year prison sentence for failing to appear before a judge three years ago to answer questions about the coins.
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