PORTLAND, Maine — Federal investigators have searched the Gorham home of deep-sea treasure hunter Greg Brooks, who earlier this month testified he was duped into a costly exploration by bogus research from a contractor.
Federal Magistrate Judge John H. Rich III on Friday unsealed the search warrant for Brooks’ home, which authorized investigators from the U.S. Attorney’s Office to seek out financial records, historical documents and a broad range of materials related to Brooks’ treasure seeking endeavors.
Brooks and his companies — Sea Hunters, Sea Hunters 2 and Deep Sea Hunters — are involved in two lawsuits in federal court, one from a firm claiming Sea Hunters did not pay for a remotely operated vehicle. The other matter is connected to a salvage claim Sea Hunters filed in U.S. District Court in Portland, which has been challenged by the British government and a group of dissatisfied investors organized as Mission Recovery, who want rights to salvage the ship.
There have been no criminal charges filed against Brooks or his companies in relation to that search warrant. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Portland said Monday that he could not comment on the warrant or any related investigation.
Further details of the search of Brooks’ home or what it revealed were not available, and related documents remained sealed.
The search comes after Brooks stated in a Dec. 4 affidavit that his contractor, Ed Michaud, provided him with falsified historical documents, which became the basis for bringing in investors to fund missions to recover what they believed to be a valuable cache of platinum and gold aboard the S.S. Port Nicholson, a World War II freighter sunk by a German submarine about 50 miles northeast of Provincetown, Massachusetts.
The revelation that those documents were fake has upended a separate case about the salvage rights to the wreck, in which the British government and a group of investors in Sea Hunters are seeking claim to the ship.
After a conference on Dec. 15, Rich ordered that all parties reconsider the impact the admission has on the case, as both Sea Hunters and Mission Recovery were, until that time, operating with the belief that the ship held up to $3 billion in sunken treasure.
According to court documents, attorneys for the investors organized as Mission Recovery and Sea Hunters both stated an intention to continue the pursuit of the shipwreck and wished to proceed in settling the matter of salvage rights in court.
Following that conference, the parties in the case were asked to file a status report by Jan. 5, 2015, detailing how they think the case should move forward.
The case has many moving parts, including Sea Hunters’ ability to proceed with the salvage efforts. Marshall Tinkle, an attorney for Sea Hunters, said during the Dec. 15 hearing that Sea Hunters remains dependent on its financial partner, the Port Nicholson Salvage Consortium, which it formed with Don Rodocker, the founder and president of a San Diego-based manufacturer of small remote-operated undersea vehicles.
Rich, in his summary of that hearing, wrote that the consortium continues to back the project but is “considering its options and has not yet made a decision.” The court ordered that Sea Hunters file a notice of any changes to that joint venture.
Sea Hunters’ attorney Marshall Tinkle was not immediately available for comment Monday afternoon.
In April, Maine’s securities administrator, Judith Shaw, said that her office began an inquiry into Brooks’ operation. She said earlier this month she could not comment on that effort.