Federal and state authorities finally have a real name to go with a man held in a northeast Ohio jail -- a man painted as one of America's premier scam artists.
"Bobby Thompson" is no longer an "also known as" suspect behind bars. The man wanted for 25 years for ripping off probate bank accounts and allegedly masterminding a charity scam under a group known as the "U.S. Navy Veterans Association" has a real name, and it's John Donald Cody, a 65-year old living on the lam under a laundry list of fraud charges and even an espionage case.
He was locked up in Cleveland since he was arrested last spring in Oregon on charges from Ohio, awaiting trial, but he never divulged his true identity. U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott took it as a personal challenge, reviewing cold cases and wanted flyers over the decades before finally getting a copy of fingerprints that provided a solid match.
Cody had been wanted since 1987 in Virginia on probate court and mortgage fraud, a separate case from the Ohio fraud charges alleging he -- as "Bobby Thompson" -- was behind a scam operating as if it was a legitimate military veterans group that's believed to have snared more than $2 million dollars from Ohio residents and millions more from people in 40 other states who thought they were helping a veterans group.
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(U.S. Marshal - news release) On May 1, U.S. Marshals announced the arrest of one of Americas Most Wanted and elusive fugitives, known and charged in Ohio under the alias “Bobby Thompson.”
Photo at left, from U.S. Marshal's Office, shows "Thompson" in present day.
Thompson has been accused of stealing millions of dollars donated for the sole purpose of aiding U.S. veterans. “Bobby Thompson,” which was an alias, was on the run for more than two years in which he assumed numerous fictitious names and was known to alter his appearance. He was charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, identity theft, fraud and money laundering.
On April 30, he was arrested by U.S. Marshals in Portland, Ore., and brought back to Ohio to face the charges. At the time of arrest, authorities also seized nearly $1 million that “Thompson” had locked in a storage locker. “Thompson” has been detained in the Cuyahoga County Jail awaiting trial.
Today, U.S. Marshals, with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, positively identified “Bobby Thompson” as cold case fugitive John Donald Cody.Cody, 65, has been wanted by the Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Marshals since 1987 for numerous fraudulent charges. Cody is also wanted for questioning by the FBI in connection to an ongoing espionage investigation.
U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott was so intrigued with this investigation and the fact that “Thompson” continued to hide his true identity that he began to search through the internet attempting to identify him.
Marshal Elliott conducted Google searches for cold case fraud fugitives with ties to military. In doing so, he came upon an FBI wanted flyer for a cold case fraud fugitive wanted since 1987. Upon looking at the dated picture, the man immediately had a noticeable likeness to “Thompson.” Upon reading the history of the case and particulars of the fugitive, things really matched up well with “Thompson.” The fugitive was John Donald Cody and after receiving a copy of his fingerprints from the FBI, they were a confirmed match with the fingerprints from the Cuyahoga County Jail of “Thompson.”
The federal warrant for Cody is from May 4, 1987, out of the Eastern District of Virginia charging him with interstate transportation of fraudulent traveler’s checks from probate estates’ bank accounts, false statements to an investment brokerage firm, and false statements on loan applications. Cody is also wanted by the FBI for questioning in connection to an ongoing espionage investigation. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Northern Ohio is currently communicating with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Eastern Virginia regarding these charges and to determine the next steps now that Cody has been positively identified and in custody at the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office.
(Attorney General - news release) Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine issued the following statement today after the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Marshals revealed John Donald Cody as the true identity of 'Bobby Thompson,' the mastermind of the alleged charity scam U.S. Navy Veterans Association.
"For years this suspect hid from the truth, but today, the truth has caught up with him," said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. "John Cody can no longer conceal his identity under the alias 'Bobby Thompson.'"
Federal authorities announced this morning that fingerprint analysis revealed Cody had been wanted by the FBI for fraud since 1987.
The Ohio Attorney General's Office has spent years investigating Cody, who is believed to have collected nearly $2 million of Ohioans' money and tens of millions from residents in 40 other states who thought they were donating to military veterans.
John Cody AKA 'Bobby Thompson' is currently in custody in Cleveland, awaiting trial on charges including money laundering and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity. The Ohio Attorney General's Office is prosecuting the case.