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Witness: Fugitive treasure hunter had stash of $100 bills

A federal magistrate denied bond for both Thompson and his girlfriend.

By
Frances Burns
A gold bar salvaged from the S.S. Central America was displayed tt the Winter Antiques Show in New York in 2013. . UPI File Photo by John Angelillo
A gold bar salvaged from the S.S. Central America was displayed tt the Winter Antiques Show in New York in 2013. . UPI File Photo by John Angelillo | License Photo

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Fugitive treasure hunter Tommy Thompson had $420,000 in $100 bills in his Florida hotel room when he was arrested, a U.S. marshal testified Wednesday.

Thompson is fighting return to Ohio where he faces civil and criminal contempt charges. He was arrested Jan. 27 at a hotel in Boca Raton after two years on the run.

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The marshal also said investigators have not yet searched storage units linked to Thompson and Alison Antekeier, his longtime assistant and girlfriend. He said the money was in safes concealed in two suitcases.

U.S. Magistrate Dave Lee Brannon ordered Antekeier, charged only with civil contempt, transferred to Ohio. He postponed a decision on Thompson after his lawyer, Julia Graves, said she has not yet been authorized to practice in federal court.

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Brannon denied bond for both Thompson and Antekeier.

In the 1980s, Thompson discovered the wreck of the S.S. Central America off the coast of South California and salvaged 3 tons of gold bars and other treasure. Hundreds of passengers and crew died when the ship, carrying gold from California, sank in a hurricane in 1857.

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Thompson sold the gold in 2000 for about $50 million. But investors and members of his crew have sued him, saying they got none of the money.

Thompson and Antekeier disappeared after failing to show up for a court hearing in Ohio.

Lawyers representing the plaintiffs filed motions after Thompson's arrest seeking information on what was found in his hotel room.

"If he has millions of dollars of cash hidden somewhere, if he has 500 gold coins hidden somewhere, those are assets he needs to answer questions about," said Mike Szolosi, a Columbus lawyer.

Szolosi represents a group of sonar analysts who say Thompson agreed to pay them 2 percent of any finds he made.

Last week, Thompson said he has medical problems that would become worse and possibly fatal if he is moved to Ohio.

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