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Mastermind of $100 million U.S. Navy Vets scam is convicted

By Thomas J. Sheeran

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 07:57 a.m. HST, Nov 14, 2013

CLEVELAND >>  A mysterious defendant in a $100 million, cross-country Navy veterans charity fraud case was convicted today of racketeering, theft, money laundering and other charges.

Jurors deliberated for about three hours Wednesday before reaching guilty verdicts on all 23 counts. They heard nothing from the ex-fugitive, who changed his mind and decided against testifying. His attorney said he wanted to tell his story but worried about his mental state if he faced aggressive cross-examination by prosecutors.

The defendant identifies himself as 67-year-old Bobby Thompson, but authorities say he's Harvard-trained attorney John Donald Cody. He was indicted in 2010, disappeared for nearly two years and was arrested last year in Portland, Ore.

He faces up to 67 years in prison at his sentencing, which was scheduled for Dec. 16.

The defendant rolled his eyes toward the ceiling and rocked on his feet as the verdicts were read. Deputies cuffed his wrists after the first guilty verdict was announced. Unlike the last two days of his trial, the defendant showed up with his shirt buttoned and his hair combed.

He was charged with looting the United States Navy Veterans Association, a charity he ran in Tampa, Fla. As his five-week trial wound down, he had appeared disheveled in court, so much so that the judge suggested a break Tuesday to allow him to get a clean shirt and comb his hair.

"The defense rested without calling anyone to the stand because there is no defense for the scam that John Donald Cody pulled on Americans in the name of our country's veterans," said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, whose office handled the trial.

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

Patituce said he doubts other states will seek to prosecute his client at this point.

He also said he had questions about his client's mental health and asked the judge to order an assessment before sentencing. The judge agreed and urged the defendant to be honest with the mental health review team.

Patituce said earlier that the defendant had bloodied himself last week while pounding his head against the wall in a holding cell. The judge said the defendant was checked by the jail medical staff.

Authorities believe he defrauded donors of up to $100 million in 41 states. A fraction of that money was found.

When he was arrested, authorities found fake IDs and a suitcase with $980,000 in cash.

Records show the defendant had showered politicians, often Republicans, with political donations. The judge rejected a defense request to subpoena testimony from leading Ohio Republicans, including U.S. House Speaker John Boehner.

Authorities said they traced the name Bobby Thompson to a man who wasn't connected to the charity case and had his identity stolen, including his Social Security number and date of birth.

The defendant was identified through military fingerprint records.

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pandadaddy wrote:
He looks like Saddam Hussein when he was on trial.
on November 14,2013 | 05:24AM
mikethenovice wrote:
Which end?
on November 14,2013 | 05:54AM
salsacoquibx wrote:
Now he should off got 2 life terms, plus 5 yrs..
on November 14,2013 | 05:30AM
mikethenovice wrote:
The Republicans will pardon him.
on November 14,2013 | 05:55AM
mikethenovice wrote:
Be Aware. Many more snake oil scammers out there. Never let your guard down.
on November 14,2013 | 05:56AM
ejkorvette wrote:
on November 14,2013 | 06:06AM
mitt_grund wrote:
His crime is an extreme of the non-profit ethos. Most of the charities out there have huge administrative costs and minimal actual service to their claimed recipients. It's called ripoff by degrees. Check these charities out before you give. When I last checked out Navy Veterans, there was little pay-out to veterans. Same goes for a lot of charities, nationally and locally. You should see what some of the CEO/COO's make. Charity begins first with them. And then the relatives and friends they hire. It's a big scam for many of these NPO's That's why private charity barely skims the surface of community need. Because of the pre-skim administration gives themselves.
on November 14,2013 | 06:53AM
mitt_grund wrote:
This goes for quasi-public trusts and utilities -- a la HECO/HEI. Six mill plus bonus at the end of the year? Ahhh, the life of Riley!

"What, the people are clamoring for decent, low cost service? Let them eat cake!!! I'll eat my Beluga caviar."

on November 14,2013 | 07:13AM
Macadamiamac wrote:
An ideal candidate for enhanced interrogation until he coughs up the other 99 million. Then, 99 years in the slam or with the Harvard alumni association.
on November 14,2013 | 07:38AM
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