Investors still seeking restitution from treasure hunter Tommy Thompson

Tommy Thompson
FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office shows Tommy Thompson. (Delaware County Sheriff’s Office via AP, File)

WESTERVILLE, Ohio (WCMH)– Westerville coin dealer Tom Squires says he’s seen about 50 gold coins from the shipwrecked SS Central America pass through his Westerville store, “Allen’s Coins”.

“It’s got a certain romance to it because it took a lot of people’s lives and some people’s fortunes – tragedy always tends to bring out interest,” Squires said.

Squires said those coins that were salvaged from by Tommy Thompson in the late 1980’s were not a good investment for coin collectors who bought early. “The first ones I remember trading hands were in the $20,000 to $30,000 price range and they’re available way cheaper than that now,” Squires said.

A search online found coins recovered from the SS Central America selling for $7,000 to $15,000 – about half of what might have once sold for.

For those who invested in Tommy Thompson’s venture, anything would be better than the nothing they’ve received so far.

Thompson was in federal court in Columbus Tuesday and was ordered to remain behind bars pay a fine of $1,000 a day until he agrees to cooperate with the court and reveal the location of about 500 missing coins.

The SS Central America sank off the coast of South Carolina in1857 along with 420 passengers and crew and 30,000 pounds of gold.

Thompson was also sentenced to two years in prison for failing to appear in court in 2012.

Thompson was a Batelle researcher who convinced Central Ohio investors to give him $60 million to finance his search for the wreck and salvage the gold.

Thompson recovered tons of gold coins and bullion that was eventually sold for an estimated $50 million. Investors got nothing and the case has been in court for years.

Earlier this year, a follow up salvage effort authorized by the court returned more than 15,000 additional coins and other items. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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