Ohio trial opens for man accused in Navy vets scam

CLEVELAND — A onetime fugitive charged in a $100 million multistate fraud under the guise of helping Navy veterans went on trial Monday after losing a bid to subpoena U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and other leading Ohio politicians.

A judge in Cleveland rejected the renewed defense request to subpoena the politicians in an effort trying to show the defendant’s political donations were legal.

The defendant calls himself Bobby Thompson, but authorities have identified him as lawyer and former military intelligence officer John Donald Cody.

Thompson, 67 is charged with defrauding people who donated to a reputed charity for Navy veterans, the United States Navy Veterans Association based in Tampa, Fla.

The alleged fraud spanned 41 states, including up to $2 million in Ohio. Authorities said little, if any, of the money collected by the charity was used to benefit veterans.

The defendant showered politicians, many of them Republicans, with political donations.

His attorney, Joseph Patituce, said subpoenas for testimony by Boehner, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, two DeWine predecessors and other leading Ohio political figures, mostly Republicans, were needed to prove the charity’s political contributions were legal.

But Brad Tammaro, an assistant attorney general handling the trial, said where the money went was unrelated to the charges of money laundering and theft.

Patituce hinted at a defense focused on the CIA and government secrets, but Tammaro said that if “by some fantasy” there was such government involvement, it did not exonerate the defendant.

Patituce said he didn’t want to tip the defense strategy but said it would involve the CIA and a secretive operation decades ago in Arizona.

The judge indicated both sides had tried to resolve the case before trial, but, when questioned by the judge, Patituce said nothing had developed.

Thompson was dressed in a suit and tie and passed notes to his attorney during final motions. Jury selection began afterward.

Patituce said he needed more time to prepare and cited the 20,000 documents which must be reviewed. The judge said the trial would move ahead.

His attorney said any fraud involved solicitors, not his client.

Authorities said the defendant used his VIP political connections to encourage donors to give to his charity.

While on the run, investigators tracked him through Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Washington and West Virginia.

More in Local News

Young woman missing from Mukilteo found safe

She called her parents and told them she was at a museum in Seattle.

Mom and brother turn in suspect in Stanwood robberies

The man is suspected of robbing the same gas station twice, and apologizing to the clerk afterward.

Derrick “Wiz” Crawford, 22, is a suspect in the homicide of his roommate. (Edmonds Police Department)
Roommate suspected in Edmonds killing found hiding in closet

Police had been searching for him for 10 days before locating him at a house in Everett.

Video shows man suspected of attacking a woman in Edmonds

The man allegedly threw her on the ground, then ran away after the she began kicking and screaming.

Navy to put filter in Coupeville’s contaminated water system

Chemicals from firefighting foam was found in the town’s drinking water.

Officials to test sanity of suspect in Everett crime spree

He allegedly tried to rob and clobber a transit worker, then fled and struggled with police.

Katharine Graham, then CEO and chairwoman of the board of The Washington Post Co., looks over a copy of The Daily Herald with Larry Hanson, then The Herald’s publisher, during her visit to Everett on Sept. 20, 1984. The Washington Post Co. owned The Herald from 1978 until 2013. (Herald archives)
Everett’s brush with Katharine Graham, leader of ‘The Post’

Retired Herald publisher Larry Hanson recalls The Washington Post publisher’s visits.

Former Monroe cop loses appeal on sex crimes conviction

Once a highly respected officer, he was found guilty of secretly videotaping his kids’ babysitter.

Families seek to change wrongful death law

A bill would allow or parents or siblings who wish to pursue a suit for an unmarried, childless adult.

Most Read