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Crime & Courts

28-year sentence in Ohio in veterans charity scam


Published:   |   Updated: December 16, 2013 at 10:26 AM

CLEVELAND — A judge handed down a 28-year prison sentence Monday to a man convicted of masterminding a $100 million, cross-country Navy veterans charity fraud based in Tampa.

Judge Steven Gall imposed the sentence on the defendant who identifies himself as 67-year-old Bobby Thompson. Authorities say is Harvard-trained attorney John Donald Cody.

The Ohio attorney general’s office, which handled his trial, asked the judge in a filing last week to sentence him to 41 years in prison. In addition, the prosecution recommended a $6.3 million fine. Judge Steven Gall fined him $6 million.

The defense has asked for 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.

The defense hinted at a CIA covert operation and showed jurors photos of the defendant with President George W. Bush, suggesting Thompson was acting with government sanction.

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

Thompson sat upright, taking 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 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 onetime fugitive signaled he would testify at trial but changed his mind.

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 convicted of looting the United States Navy Veterans Association, a charity he ran in Tampa.

Only a fraction of the $100 million was found. When Thompson 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.

Politicians who received donations from him, according to campaign finance filings, include Bush and former presidential contenders Mitt Romney, John McCain and Rudolph Giuliani.

The defendant was identified through military fingerprint records.

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