Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Man Accused Of Siphoning Millions From Fake Veterans' Charity

The defendant known as Bobby Thompson listens to court proceedings in Cleveland on Monday.
Tony Dejak
The defendant known as Bobby Thompson listens to court proceedings in Cleveland on Monday.

An ex-military intelligence officer who prosecutors say siphoned millions from a bogus charity for U.S. Navy veterans is going on trial in Ohio.

The 67-year-old defendant calls himself Bobby Thompson, but authorities say his real name is John Donald Cody. He was arrested last year in Portland, Ore., after two years on the run, and is charged with masterminding a $100 million multistate fraud using a charity called United States Veterans Association, based in Tampa, Fla.

Thompson, who worked in military intelligence in the 1970s and is described as a Harvard-trained lawyer, has claimed in court filings that he's still working as a "nonofficial cover" agent for the CIA, and that the charity is part of a secret operation.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that "in a handwritten court motion, Thompson alleged that the Tampa charity was not a criminal enterprise but 'a U.S. intelligence community/White House and Republican Party manipulated operation.' "

Thompson faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted of the fraud. Prosecutors say the charity he ran "turned out to be a total charade," according to the Times:

"Its state chapters were mail drops, its directors nonexistent. It gave little aid to veterans.

"During the trial, which is expected to last at least six weeks, prosecutors say they'll show that Thompson siphoned money from the charity's accounts for personal use and used dozens of stolen identities to cover his tracks.

"But Thompson, who ran Navy Veterans from a roach-infested duplex in Ybor City, yet became a major Republican donor and had his picture taken — twice — with President George W. Bush, has a different explanation."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.