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Treasure hunter arrested in Florida after 2 years on run

Tommy Thompson and his companion, Alison Antekeier, face federal contempt of court charges for failing to appear at a hearing in an investors' lawsuit.

By
Frances Burns
A gold bar from the treasure on the SS Central America, which sank in 1857, was displayed at the Winter Antiques Show in New York in 2013. Tommy Thompson, who found tine wreck in the late 1980s, is under arrest in Florida. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
A gold bar from the treasure on the SS Central America, which sank in 1857, was displayed at the Winter Antiques Show in New York in 2013. Tommy Thompson, who found tine wreck in the late 1980s, is under arrest in Florida. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- A treasure hunter who made one of the biggest finds in U.S. history on a ship wrecked off South Carolina has been arrested in Florida after two years on the run.

Federal marshals arrested Tommy Thompson and his longtime assistant and partner, Alison Antekeier, in Florida. They were being held in Palm Beach County.

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Thompson and Antekeier were charged with contempt of court in 2012 when they failed to show up for a hearing brought by investors in his treasure hunt.

In the late 1980s, Thompson discovered the wreck of the SS Central America, which went down in an 1857 hurricane killing hundreds of passengers and crew. The ship was carrying tons of gold from California, and Thompson sold some of the gold for millions of dollars.

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People in the Columbus, Ohio, area who had invested millions in Thompson's treasure hunt said they were not repaid, and two sued in federal court for an accounting.

Thompson and Antekeier, who had been living in a rented mansion in Vero Beach, Fla., since 2008, vanished in late 2012. Among the items found in the house was a book, How to Live Your Life Invisible, along with evidence that Thompson had squirreled away at least $1 million in a bank account opened under the name Harvey Thompson.

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Brian Babist, a senior inspector with the U.S. Marshals in Columbus, said the couple were to appear before a federal judge in West Palm Beach on Wednesday.

Thompson was at one time a scientist with the Battelle Memorial Institute, a non-profit applied science research company in Columbus.

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