Ohio Veterans Can Claim A Stake in $1 million Recovered from a Veterans Scam

There will be nearly $1 million up for grabs in Ohio in the near future, but only veterans need apply.  

That’s because the money was originally donated by Americans for veterans and is intended to be returned to veterans. 

However, which veterans can claim a piece of the money remains unclear.

Americans were unwittingly duped out of the money during a national scam led by a con-artist who was so conniving he was able to use donations to help him gain access to the White House.

Donations flowed to a group called the U.S. Navy Veterans Association between 1999 and 2010, when a newspaper reporter discovered the Navy Veterans group, its board of directors and even it’s only known executive, Bobby Thompson, were all fake.

The discovery was followed by a manhunt ending with U.S. Marshals tracking Thompson down in Portland, Ore., on April 30, 2012.  Marshals also discovered the money, which Thompson had hid a storage rental unit not far from his apartment.

Marshals then handed Thompson and the money over to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, who had charges against him.

Authorities, though, still didn’t know Thompson’s real identity and he would only sign his name as Mr. X.  

However, U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott in Northern Ohio determined that Thompson’s real name is John Donald Cody, a former Army Intelligence Officer and Harvard Law School graduate.  He was convicted in Cleveland for identity theft, money laundering and other crimes in 2013. He remains in an Ohio prison for the crimes.

The case showed that Americans donated more than $100 million to Thompson’s fake charity, though not much more than the million stored in Portland has ever been recovered.

The story behind Thompson’s fake charity, where the money went and how he gained influence with our national leaders is part of a book due out in 2017 called Master of Deceit.  

Thompson tried to have his conviction overturned, claiming he was a former CIA agent and his organization was supported by the White House. His appeals, though, were denied.  On Jan. 6, 2016, Thompson asked the Eighth District Court of Appeals in Ohio to reconsider. That motion has been pending now for a year.

Asst. Ohio Attorney Prosecutor Brad Tammaro sent a notice to the court this week though, saying the office wants to disperse the funds before the appeal is decided.

For now, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office is not saying how the money will be dispersed or even who can apply.

“The money will go to appropriate veterans groups, but beyond what is in the public record we don’t have any additional information to share at this time,” AG spokeswoman Jill Del Greco said today.   

The court filing, though, states they “anticipate distribution to begin in 60 days.” 

Thompson created the fake Navy Veterans group in the late 1990s. The scam was uncovered by a St. Petersburg Times reporter in Florida in 2010.  News of the fake charity prompted several state attorney generals to investigate and Thompson to disappear.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office took the lead filing charges against Thompson after it was shown Thompson had given thousands of the donated funds to politicians, not veterans.  The donations even earned him access to the Oval Office in small gathering with President George W. Bush in 2008.

When U.S. Marshals determined Thompson’s real identity, it became apparent that not only had Thompson had entered the White House under a stolen identity. He was able to enter even though his fingerprints should have shown that he was John Donald Cody – a man wanted by the FBI for espionage.

Cody also had warrants for his arrest for other crimes that stemmed back to 1984.

Using the name Thompson, Cody built the fake national charity though he was sought after by the FBI, Marshals and the Internal Revenue Service.  

The author of Master of Deceit, Jodi Andes, can be reached through her website at www.jodiandes.com

Feb. 13, 2017

Con Artist Seeking Millions from State for Prison Violations

The con artist convicted of fleecing American veterans of more than $100 million in donations is trying to turn the tables on the state.

John Donald Cody filed a pro se lawsuit in federal court in the Northern District of Ohio in January, which seeks more than $18 million in damages. Cody is more commonly known under the alias Bobby Thompson for a national charitable scam that made him notorious.

Using the alias “Bobby Thompson,” Cody created a charity called the U.S. Navy Veterans Association that collected donations in the name of veterans from 1998-2010. Little of the $100 million donated during that time though ever went to veterans.

The scam was exposed by a then St. Petersburg Times reporter in 2010. The articles led to nine state investigations and charges filed by then Ohio Attorney Richard Cordray. Cody was convicted of all counts in 2013 and sentenced to 28 years in prison.

Since then, Cody claims he has been harassed while serving his time at the Richland Correctional Institute in Mansfield, Ohio.  He also claims his civil rights are being denied.  His problems grew out of staff identifying him as a “frequent filer” – a jailhouse inmate who files too many lawsuits, the suit claims.

To harass and stop him from filing more lawsuits, guards threw away some of his legal notes when he was sent to isolation and took away cards that allow him to make copies in the law library. Cody claims he had 20 copy cards, valued at $2 each; guards say he had 16. The cards were taken away when he was sent to the “hole” and were missing more the equivalent of more than 300 copies when they returned.

Cody claims he also lost some of the 10 bottles of Aleve and four bottles of aspirin that he amassed before being sent to isolation. He adds that the prison is denying  him certain rights required under the Americans with Disability Act.  (Cody uses a cane to get around.)

The inmate asks the court to find the Richland Correctional Staff guilty of tampering with evidence, theft in office and receiving stolen property (for disposal) of some legal notes.  He also wants more time and access to the prison’s law library adding: “Five years of incarceration on top of 45 years of active service with the Central Intelligence Agency as an intelligence operative no longer qualifies him as a ‘regular’ lawyer, Cody contends.”

Cody has previously claimed that the U.S. Navy Veterans Association wasn’t a scam, but a program approved and supported by the CIA and White House to rally support for the War on Terror.

The state prison system has not yet responded to the lawsuit. However, Cody quotes the guards in his lawsuit as has saying he keeps more legal papers than allowed.

Cody asks for $6,400,000 in punitive damages, compensatory damages, and the same amount for every provable violation of his First Amendment Rights. How he derived that amount is unclear.

Cody – a former graduate of Harvard law school – also wants compensated for his time if he wins.


Nov. 25, 2018

Publisher's Choice 

Salman Rushdie once said “books choose their authors.”

That’s me. I can acknowledge it, but can barely say it as I struggle to take a deep breath.  

Master of Deceit is more than the book I could never stop researching after working on the case at the Ohio Attorney General’s Office in 2010-2011.  It was/is the mystery that would not let go, though I have good reason:

The book is about a former military spy who defrauded Americans of $100 million in donations intended for U.S. veterans, so he could funnel the money to Republican politics instead.  The scam artist, John Donald Cody, hid his identity using the alias retired Lt. Commander Bobby Thompson.  

The commander then showered donations on the nation’s top Republican politicians, earning time and photos with, President George W. Bush, Speaker of the House John Boehner, senators Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Fred Thompson, and more than a dozen other nationally known figures.

With his real identity concealed, no one was aware that Cody was wanted by the FBI for questioning on espionage, or that the money Americans donated for veterans never reached them.

So Cody not only scammed American veterans, he outwitted the U.S. intelligence community who allowed a wanted spy to get close to the president.

The book has taken me cross-country, both professionally and personally, and years of my life. It's weathered on through the loss of my mother to cancer and an untimely divorce, and both my sons' high school years. The journey has been crutched by supportive friends and a glass or two of whiskey or bourbon along the way.

Now,  I am at juncture where I am able to breathe more deeply, and a point where it is time to wait. The wait, suffice it to say, is torture, but good torture! There is something very meaningful to wait for.

My literary agent, David Fugate, has presented the book to publishers and more than a half dozen remain interested.  It’s a blessing of considerable measure for a former newspaper reporter. 

The Bobby Thompson story gained national attention when the fraud was uncovered and again where his true identity was revealed. But the story never gained enough attention to push journalists to discover if Bobby Thompson worked alone? Or where the veterans’ money went to?

Or should I say, no journalists except me who trudged along as the nation instead was captivated by stories of the day, like the Salahis, who crashed a White House party for a photo opp before being discovered, or the latest billion dollar business scandal.

Just as the book chose me. I know it’s the book’s time.  It’s time to learn the ending.