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Entries in Bobby Thompson (5)

Monday
Oct012012

Feds: Notorious Alleged Con Man 'Bobby Thompson' Was Military Spy

Courtesy US Marshals(NEW YORK) -- Authorities revealed on Monday that they believe "Bobby Thompson," the man accused of using a fake veterans charity to swindle more than $100 million and to rub shoulders with top-level Republicans, is actually a former military intelligence officer named John Donald Cody.

Officials said Cody has been on an FBI watch list for 25 years after being accused of various frauds and was wanted for questioning related to an espionage investigation, as first reported by The Tampa Bay Times.

After apparently evading arrest for more than two decades, the man known as Thompson was charged in Ohio in 2010 on counts of identity theft, fraud and money laundering in connection with a bogus charity called the U.S. Navy Veterans Association that raised more than $100 million from unsuspecting donors around the country over seven years, as detailed in an ABC News investigation.

To help enhance the charity's credibility, Thompson allegedly used some of the money to make large campaign contributions to prominent politicians, most of them Republicans, including President George W. Bush, Sen. John McCain, and Ohio Rep. John Boehner, now Speaker of the House.  He attended events with the political figures, and posed proudly for now infamous photos with them.

Cody was arrested in May in connection with the charity scam, but refused to reveal his true identity, signing any papers with the letter "X."

Thompson led authorities on a cross-country manhunt that a U.S. Marshal called "one of our most challenging fugitive investigations to date."

But even after he was caught, the man proved to be a challenge for officials.  When taken to court days after his arrest, the man then-known as Thompson dared prosecutors to discover his identity.

When a judge asked him if he had the educational background to represent himself in court, he refused to answer.

"With all due respect to the court, the question you asked is an identity question," he said.  "The state has alleged identity theft as part of their complaint.  I believe, your honor, that the state has the burden of proof as to that."

It is a tale ripped from Hollywood.  U.S. Marshals who finally caught him believe he modeled his life after the famous imposter from the blockbuster Catch Me If You Can.  A copy of the Leonardo DiCaprio movie was among the few personal possessions he kept at a Portland, Ore., boarding house.

Though he lacks the suave demeanor and dashing looks of DiCaprio's character, no one involved in his capture would sell short his gifts as an alleged con man.  As the head of the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, he oversaw a sophisticated charity operation with chapters in 41 states and was so confident in his ability to give the Navy Vets organization the appearance of a genuine charity, he hired Helen Mac Murray, a former prosecutor of charity fraud in the Ohio Attorney General's Office, to represent the group.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May032012

Mystery Man Who Ran $100M Charity Scam Won't Reveal Identity

Courtesy US Marshals(WASHINGTON) -- The man accused of using a fake identity to set up a bogus Navy Veterans charity (and then pocket millions in donations) has been captured, but authorities still have no idea who he is.

In interviews with investigators, the fugitive who was captured in Portland, Oregon this week has refused to answer questions. His fingerprints yielded no matches. And when handed documents to sign, he scrawls only "X," according to U.S. Marshal Peter Elliott.

"He's not giving up anything," Elliott said. "Nothing. Nada."

As detailed in an ABC News investigation, the mustachioed man was charged in Ohio in 2010 on counts of identity theft, fraud, and money laundering in connection with a bogus charity called the U.S. Navy Veterans Association that raised more than $100 million from unsuspecting donors around the country.

As questions began to swirl about the charity, Thompson abandoned his residence in Florida. He was spotted in a New York City hotel lobby and then he vanished. Over the next two years, authorities believe he lived in Arizona, New Mexico, and near Boston. After a two year manhunt, the U.S. Marshals caught up with him outside a Portland bar. His moustache was gone, he walked with a cane, and was carrying a backpack filled with cash.

When Marshals were handcuffing him, he told them: "It's my right under the U.S. Constitution not to make any statements." Those are the last words he has spoken, Elliott said.

While they have few clues about his identity, investigators say, there are some details emerging about his life on the run. Late Tuesday, when they opened the locker, U.S. Marshals say they found two suitcases filled with $1 million in cash, as well as birth certificates, lists of social security numbers and other public records that authorities believe were intended to help Thompson manufacture new identities.

"It appears he's had numerous names," Elliott said.

The man rented the storage locker in December under the name Alan Lacey.

The same name was on a fake Canadian resident alien card that the fugitive had on him at the time of his capture, according Elliott, who headed a three-member fugitive task force that spent years on the case.

Investigators also now believe he attempted to start another charity while in the Boston area, called the Plymouth Rock Society of Christian Pilgrims. Elliott said investigators believe that when a story about the man known as Thompson appeared on America's Most Wanted, he fled Boston and moved to Portland.

Since his capture, Thompson has been held in the Multnomah County Jail where he is awaiting extradition to Northern Ohio, a move that is expected to occur in the next 72 hours.

Anyone with information regarding "Thompson's" identity is encouraged to contact the U.S. Marshals Service for the Northern District of Ohio at: 1-866-4-WANTED or text keyword WANTED and the tip to 847411 (tip411). Tipsters may remain anonymous and a cash reward may be available.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May032012

Feds: We Found Fugitive's $1M Stash

Multnomah County Sheriff's Dept./U.S. Marshals(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Marshals said Wednesday they have found $1 million in cash in a storage locker rented by the recently captured fugitive known as Bobby Thompson.

The man accused of setting up a fake Navy Veterans charity and siphoning away millions of dollars was captured earlier this week by U.S. Marshals in Portland, Oregon, after nearly two years on the run.

Now, the Marshals said they have located a stash of cash in a storage facility rented under the name Alan Lacey. The name was on a fake Canadian identity card that the fugitive had on him at the time of his capture, according to Pete Elliott, the U.S. Marshal in northern Ohio who headed the fugitive task force that spent two years on the case.

The alleged con artist, who mostly went by the name Bobby Thompson, has continued to refuse to reveal his identity after Marshals took him into custody last night, according to the Ohio Attorney General's office.

Investigators are still unsure of the true identity of "Thompson" and will be working on that as well as identifying his alleged ongoing criminal activity. Thompson was transported to the Multnomah County Jail where he will await extradition to Northern Ohio.

As detailed in an ABC News investigation, the mustachioed man known as Thompson was charged in Ohio in 2010 on counts of identity theft, fraud, and money laundering in connection with a bogus charity called the U.S. Navy Veterans Association that raised more than $100 million from unsuspecting donors around the country.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar232011

Investigators Release Images of Suspected Navy Vets Con Man

Office of the Ohio Attorney General(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- Investigators have released the last known images of suspected con man Bobby Thompson, who authorities say conned donors out of more than $100 million for a fake charity for Navy veterans before vanishing.

The mustachioed man, who authorities say operated under Thompson as an alias while he carried out his alleged eight-year con, was last spotted by security cameras on June 16, 2010, apparently withdrawing money from an ATM in New York City.  Thompson had been fingered three months earlier as the man behind the apparently non-existant Navy Veterans Association in a St. Petersburg Times expose.

The man known as Thompson faces charges in Ohio for identity theft, corruption and money laundering, but just over a year after the story broke, authorities still do not know his real name or whereabouts.  A spokesperson for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, whose office is leading the investigation, told ABC News Tuesday they haven't given up their chase.

The ATM images first appeared on America's Most Wanted and show Thompson sporting jean shorts and construction boots with a hat and sunglasses covering much of his face.

Thompson raised money for the phony charity mostly through phone solicitations, telling potential donors the money was needed to assist needy veterans, according to investigators.

Federal election records show he invested some of the money -- more than $200,000 -- in campaign contributions to top Republican politicians, including former President George W. Bush, U.S. Sen. John McCain, and the incoming Speaker of the House, John Boehner.

In exchange, he received grip-and-grin snapshots with American political leaders -- the sort of photo that may be commonplace on office walls in Washington, D.C., but looked to outsiders like evidence of an important man with heavy-duty connections.

In early August, then Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray announced an arrest warrant for Thompson, who remains a fugitive.

Darryl Rouson, a Florida legislator, initially helped represent the man he thought was Bobby Thompson after he first came under fire.

"He seemed to be a knowledgeable man about politics and community affairs," Rouson told ABC News in November.  "He was engaging, jovial.  I had no reason to suspect he was anything other than who he said he was."

DeWine, a former U.S. Senator, was one of many Republicans who took donations from Thompson.  In November, he said he would pursue the case with the same vigor as his Democratic predecessor, Cordray.

He conceded in an interview with ABC News then that the business of political fundraising is not always as intimate as people believe -- that candidates raise most of their money from people who are, essentially, total strangers.

"Some people who give you money, you just don't know them," DeWine said.  "You don't know who they are.  You're talking about thousands of people, you don't have a clue who they are.  It can be pretty hard to sort all that out.  You've got to try." ´╗┐

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Nov202010

Authorities Hunt for Mysterious Figure in Veterans Charity Scam

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- The man who once rubbed shoulders with GOP political luminaries is now wanted by Ohio state authorities who say the $100 million he raised in the name of a charity for U.S. Navy veterans cannot be located.

He went by the names Bobby Thompson and Ronnie Brittain, but authorities say both were stolen identities. His charity, the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, ran its national headquarters in Washington, D.C., out of a post office box at a UPS store.

Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray charged that this alleged con artist had done "in the charitable sphere what Bernie Madoff did in the investment sphere. It's shocking, and it's discouraging and it's depressing to think so many people wanted to give to veterans and in fact they were giving to this man and his sham organization."

Thompson collected as much as $100 million over the past decade from donors who thought they were contributing to a legitimate veterans service organization, according to Cordray, and 99 percent of the funds are now unaccounted for. He donated more than $200,000 to prominent politicians, mostly Republicans.

Some, like President George W. Bush and the presumptive incoming House Speaker, John Boehner, posed for photographs with him. Others, including a former Ohio Attorney General, initially supported what they believed were his legitimate charitable efforts.

Darryl Rouson, a Florida legislator, initially helped represent the man he thought was Bobby Thompson after he first came under fire in reports by the St. Petersburg Times, the newspaper that first raised questions about the so-called veterans charity.

"He seemed to be a knowledgeable man about politics and community affairs," Rouson told ABC News. "He was engaging, jovial. I had no reason to suspect he was anything other than who he said he was."

Mike DeWine, a former U.S. Senator who is preparing to take over as Ohio Attorney General, was one of many Republicans who took donations from the man who called himself Bobby Thompson. He now says he expects to pursue the case against Thompson with the same vigor as his Democratic predecessor, Cordray.

He conceded in an interview with ABC News that the business of political fundraising is not always as intimate as people believe -- that candidates raise most of their money from people who are, essentially, total strangers.

"Some people who give you money, you just don't know them," DeWine said. "You don't know who they are. You're talking about thousands of people, you don't have a clue who they are. It can be pretty hard to sort all that out. You've got to try."

Now, authorities are trying to sort out Thompson's real identity. And his location.

The person calling himself Bobby Thompson and claiming to be a retired lieutenant commander in the Navy surfaced in Florida in 1998, according to a timeline compiled by the St. Petersburg Times, giving his age as 52 when he registered to vote in Hillsborough County. He formed a Navy veterans' political action committee the next year, and then launched the U.S. Navy Veterans Association as a non-profit veterans service organization in 2002, applying for tax-exempt status with the IRS.

After the St. Petersburg Times began investigating Thompson, a reporter from the newspaper was able to confront "Thompson" outside his Ybor City, Florida duplex in 2009 and conduct an interview with him. Thompson told the paper he was part Choctaw Indian and was from Mississippi. He also said he had a relative in the tribe named Bobby Thompson, "but I'm not him." He also claimed to have joined the Navy underage, but the Navy has no record of his service.

According to Ohio authorities, "Thompson" stole the identity of a man named Bobby Thompson from Washington State. He also had an identity card from the state of Indiana issued under the name of a man from New Mexico named Ronnie Brittain. The real Ronnie Brittain is the head of a veterans group in New Mexico.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio´╗┐







ABC News Radio