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Ohio seeks 41 years for Navy vets charity scammer

Dec. 15, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Bobby Thompson
Bobby Thompson, who authorities have identified as Harvard-trained attorney John Donald Cody, appears Nov. 14 in court in Cleveland. Thompson, convicted in Cleveland of masterminding a $100 million, cross-country Navy veterans charity fraud, faces sentencing Monday. (Tony Dejak / AP)
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CLEVELAND — A mysterious figure convicted of masterminding a $100 million, cross-country Navy veterans charity fraud could spend the rest of his life in prison.

The defendant, who identifies himself as 67-year-old Bobby Thompson but who authorities say is actually Harvard-trained attorney John Donald Cody, faces sentencing Monday.

The Ohio attorney general’s office, which handled his trial, asked the judge for a sentence of 41 years in prison and a fine of $6.3 million.

The defense has requested a new trial.

Defense attorney Joseph Patituce said after the verdict that ineffective legal representation issues stemming from limited preparation time and his client’s erratic cooperation might be a basis for an appeal.

Thompson was convicted Nov. 14 of racketeering, theft, money laundering and 12 counts of identity theft. The prosecutor methodically showed jurors identification cards with the defendant’s photo but different names and issued by government agencies and companies in numerous states.

The fraud occurred in 41 states, according to trial testimony, and Ohio took the lead, indicting Thompson in 2010. He disappeared for nearly two years and was arrested last year in Portland, Ore.

He was charged with looting the United States Navy Veterans Association, a charity he ran in Tampa, Fla.

Only a fraction of the $100 million was found. When he was arrested, authorities found fake IDs and a suitcase with $980,000 in cash.

Thompson sat upright and took notes during much of his trial but turned unpredictable in the final few days, appearing in court with his shirt unbuttoned to his waist and uncombed hair hanging down his face.

The judge, who expressed irritation with Thompson over his appearance, issued an order that Thompson be “dressed, groomed and showered” by 8 a.m. on trial days and directed deputies to bring him to court “by any means necessary.”

Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office plans to ask the judge to assign $330,778 of the seized money to cover investigation and trial costs.

The attorney general’s office also wants $650,871.30 for a default judgment order, with the money going to veterans charities, according to Dan Tierney, a DeWine spokesman.

An additional $101,000 seized from Thompson has already been distributed by Ohio to veterans charities.

The one-time fugitive signaled he would testify at trial but changed his mind. The defense had hinted Thompson was working with the CIA on an undercover operation.

Records show the defendant had showered politicians, often Republicans, with political donations.

The defendant was identified through military fingerprint records.

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