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Veterans charity scam nets 28-year sentence

| Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, 9:48 p.m.

CLEVELAND — A man convicted of masterminding a $100 million, cross-country Navy veterans charity fraud was sentenced to 28 years in prison on Monday.

Judge Steven Gall ordered the defendant, who identifies himself as 67-year-old Bobby Thompson, to pay a $6 million fine. Authorities say the defendant 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.

The judge rejected a request for a new trial. The defense had said comments by jurors after the verdict that they were disappointed he hadn't testified showed they were biased against him.

The defendant, whose appearance in court on Monday was neat in contrast to the final days of his trial, slumped in his chair as the sentence was read. He complained to the judge about alleged abusive treatment by jailers while locked up during the trial.

There was no immediate response from the sheriff's department. Jailers said earlier that the defendant had acted erratically and had bloodied his forehead smashing it against a holding cell wall.

The judge said the crimes had harmed veterans who were the intended beneficiaries of the donations and also had hurt other charities as donors became skeptical of giving.

“Everyone's afraid to give,” Gall said.

He said the sentence reflected the length, extent and amount of the charity “charade.”

Defense attorney Joseph Patituce said after the verdict and again after the sentencing that ineffective legal representation issues stemming from limited preparation time might be a basis for an appeal.

His client denies committing the crimes, Patituce said.

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 he 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 had asked that $330,778 of the seized money cover investigation and trial costs, but DeWine said after the sentencing that the money instead would go to reputable veterans charities.

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