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Jodi Andes will be the featured author at the Euclid Public Library on Nov. 10, 2020.

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Welcomed and wanted

Newly released true crime book shows how a con man bankrolled politicians on the backs of veterans and breached the White House.

Master of Deceit is the story behind the man responsible for one of the largest scams against American veterans in history, which, oddly, is not his worst offense.

John Donald Cody used proceeds from this fraud to bankroll politicians instead of helping veterans. Ultimately, he became so well known in political circles that he received an invitation to the White House. Yet no one – not even the U.S. Secret Service – noticed Thompson was using a stolen ID. If they had, they would have realized Cody was wanted for more consequential offenses and why his time in the Oval Office is one of the most significant breaches in White House history.

Master of Deceit takes readers through the meanderings of Cody’s decades on the run, his capture, and the startling revelation that perhaps some federal officials never wanted him caught.

Cody grew up in New Jersey and had a career full of promise after graduating from Harvard Law School in 1972. His military career was limited to Army Military Intelligence, and was so clandestine, that records simply show Cody was assigned to an unnamed “proponent agency” and given top secret clearance. But after 13 years in intelligence, Cody snapped and disappeared.

When he resurfaced, he began a series of scams that would last more than 25 years. His most notable crimes were those he committed using the alias Lieutenant Commander Bobby Thompson — the face of a military and veterans’ support group, the U.S. Navy Veterans Association. The charity had been approved to solicit in 41 states without anyone noticing there  were no real offices, and only fake members and directors on their board. The association collected more than $100 million before the ruse was discovered by a reporter in St. Petersburg, Fla.

It would take years for a special task force to unravel enough of the mystery to track Thompson down. When they discovered his real identity, his entrance into the White House became significantly more surprising. For many of the years he claimed to be Thompson – including while he was in the White House – Cody was being hunted by the FBI. A wanted poster shows Cody was sought for questioning about espionage, though the FBI never said why.

Early reviews have called Master of Deceit “compelling” and “fast-paced” book that “reads more like a novel.” The true crime was extensively researched, contains exclusive interviews from Cody while in prison and offers insights into why some government officials may not have wanted him caught.

Author Jodi Andes worked most of her career in journalism and honed her investigative skills at The Columbus Dispatch until being brought on as Senior Investigator at the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. Assigned to the Bobby Thompson/U.S. Navy Veterans Association scam, she later became a licensed private investigator before returning to journalism to serve as a producer of an investigative team at WBNS-10TV. She now works in government communications and lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her two sons, their two dogs and a cat.

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