White-Collar Crime

Feds Say Suspect in $100M Scam Is Fugitive Harvard Law Grad Charged in 1984 Client Funds Theft

Federal authorities say a Harvard Law School graduate who has been a fugitive for 25 years is in jail awaiting trial as a suspect in an unrelated case involving $100 million scam in which donations for U.S. Navy veterans were collected throughout the country.

The suspect, who said his name is Bobby Thompson, is actually John Donald Cody, 65, said U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott at a Monday press conference in Cleveland. Harvard confirmed that a John Cody graduated in 1972, reports the Associated Press.

An Internet search for information about matters in which the suspect may have been involved turned up a wanted poster from years ago with a photo of a similar-looking man, the article explains. Cody’s identity was then confirmed through 1969 military fingerprints, after a Cuyahoga County Court judge authorized the state to take palm prints, handwriting and DNA samples over his objection.

Cody served in the U.S. Army as an Airborne Ranger and intelligence officer, which may have helped him avoid detection for all these years, according to a 2006 article in the Arizona Republic. It details an accusation that Cody absconded from his Arizona law practice with approximately $100,000 in client probate funds in 1984, after converting the money into travelers checks, and drove away in a Corvette. The car was found at a local airport with the keys in the ignition.

Cody was federally charged in 1987 in Alexandria, Va., with several financial crimes. Although the article does not make clear whether the charges are related to the Arizona matter, an online FBI wanted poster for Cody says the federal case in Virginia does directly relate to his alleged theft of client funds in Arizona.

A Tampa Bay Times article says Cody, using the Bobby Thompson name, hobnobbed with high-level Republicans including President George W. Bush at expensive fundraisers. He allegedly operated his Florida-based purported veterans charity until the newspaper exposed it as a fraud in 2010.

Additional and related coverage:

ABC News: “Feds: Notorious Alleged Con Man ‘Bobby Thompson’ Was Military Spy”

NewsNet5 (ABC): “Man accused of running national veterans charity scam must provide DNA, palm prints to court”

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