Feds: Maine Treasure Hunter Told Pal, ‘We’re Both Going to Get F—ked Now’
Two days after we published an investigative story about the Maine treasure hunter Greg Brooks—who claimed to have found the world’s richest shipwreck off Cape Cod—the federal court in Portland released a document showing why federal agents suspect Brooks of fraud and forgery.
A federal agent recorded Brooks’ longtime researcher, Ed Michaud of Framingham, Mass., discussing lies and fake documents with Brooks, according to an agent’s application for a search warrant for Brooks’ home, unsealed yesterday. The application says agents searched Brooks’ house for evidence of three federal crimes: false statements, wire fraud, and forgery of a ship’s papers.
Brooks’ company, Sea Hunters, raised $10 million from investors to salvage what he claimed was $3 billion worth of platinum from the S.S. Port Nicholson, sunk by a Nazi U-boat in 1942. Three documents that Sea Hunters used to attract some of those investments were later shown to be false. Federal agents raided Brooks’ house in Gorham, Maine, on December 4.
“Michaud admitted that Brooks pressured him to alter the documents based on pressure that Sea hunters was facing with potential investors,” says the affidavit by William Johnson, an agent for the National Archives’ inspector general.
In a June interview with Boston magazine, Brooks described a crucial November 2014 conversation with Michaud in a Home Depot parking lot.
“I knew he was wired,” Brooks claimed. “He got in my truck and he started talking, saying that shit about the documents. He says, ‘You knew they was forged.’ I says, ‘What? I know they’re forged now, ’cause you just friggin’ told me.’”
Michaud was indeed wired, according to the agent’s affidavit—but the agent describes the conversation very differently. Michaud repeatedly asserted that he lied for Brooks and altered the documents on Brooks’ behalf, the agent wrote—and Brooks never challenged him.
Among the assertions Brooks didn’t argue with, according to the affidavit, were Michaud calling the documents “fake” and this description of their partnership: “I lie and you swear by it.” Also: “[I] tried to cover your ass as best I could [to give you] plausible deniability.”
The affidavit doesn’t say Brooks confessed to any crimes. But it does say Brooks acknowledged that he expected to be “charged” by the Maine Office of Securities—which had announced an investigation of Brooks’ treasure hunting activities in April 2014. (The federal and state investigations are ongoing. No charges have been filed.)
“We’re both going to get fucked now,” Brooks allegedly told Michaud.