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