A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a case involving Gorham treasure hunter Greg Brooks and his attempt to salvage the S.S. Port Nicholson, a World War II-era shipwreck off Cape Cod.

The action ends Brooks’ nearly seven-year odyssey, which burned through millions of dollars in investors’ money and triggered a fraud investigation that is still ongoing.

In his seven-page decision, U.S. District Court Judge George Singal ruled that Brooks’ company, Sea Hunters, “is no longer able to salvage any additional portions of the arrested vessel or its cargo.” The judge also ordered Sea Hunters to return six pieces of metal it submitted to the court as proof that the shipwreck was the Port Nicholson.

Singal dismissed the case with prejudice, despite protests from Brooks’ attorney.

“The court finds that Sea Hunters’ actions in this case, including the filing of falsified documents on this court’s docket and its inability to salvage any items of substantial value since filing this case in Augusta 2008, warrants a dismissal with prejudice thereby requiring Sea Hunters to forfeit any right to a salvage award or any ability to reassert salving rights at this location in the future,” the judge wrote.

In the same ruling, Singal also denied a 2012 request by an intervenor, Mission Recovery, made up of former Brooks’ investors, to gain salvage right to the shipwreck. The judge said Mission Recovery needs to file a new claim to salvage the wreck.

“Mission Recovery expresses concern that a ‘free-for-all’ will result …” Singal wrote. “However, to date, the record in this case demonstrates the significant probability that ‘there is no valuable cargo to salvage.'”

The judge dismissed motions by the United Kingdom, which signed on to the case in 2009 because the Port Nicholson is British. Attorneys for the U.K. sought to pursue remedy for what they claimed was fraud on the court, namely that Sea Hunters and its principals, including Brooks, relied on forged documents,

Singal said any claim of fraud can be pursued by action outside of this court case.

In December, just two weeks after Brooks wrote in a sworn affidavit that forged documents were provided to the court, federal investigators searched his Gorham home and retrieved a number of items, including computers and business records.

Brooks has been a treasure hunter since the 1980s when he formed Sub Sea Research and has been involved with a number of salvage efforts, almost always funded by investors promised a cut of any findings. Although he has made many claims about treasure – he said the Port Nicholson carried at least $3 billion in platinum bars, a claim that was based on falsified documents – he has never produced anything of significant value.

 


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