Trials & Litigation

Harvard law grad faces at least 10 years after conviction in $100M veterans charity fraud


Since his lawyer didn’t put him on the stand, present any other witnesses or make a closing argument in a monthlong Ohio criminal trial concerning a $100 million veterans charity, it was perhaps not surprising that the defendant, a long-ago graduate of Harvard Law School, was found guilty on Thursday.

John Donald Cody—who had identified himself as Bobby Thompson and Mr. X—showed no emotion as he was convicted on all 23 counts, including charges of theft, money laundering, racketeering and identity theft, according to ABC News and the Associated Press. He faces a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison when he is sentenced next month.

Defense attorney Joseph Patituce said he will advise Cody to appeal. Aside from Patituce’s minimalistic approach to defending the case, the lawyer told the Cleveland Plain Dealer he was not able to prepare adequately because he had only about a month to do so and hence had a limited ability to call witnesses and could not hire accountants or other experts.

Cody at first represented himself in the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court case and said, among other claims, that he was acting on behalf of the CIA while operating the USNVA. Patituce was brought in to defend Cody in October.

At issue in the case was whether Cody, 66, misrepresented to Ohio donors how the $2 million they gave the U.S. Navy Veterans Association would be spent. Prosecutors said the vast majority of the money went to telemarketers and Cody also used charitable funds for his own benefit.

The USNVA charity was headquartered in Tampa, Fla., and registered in Ohio. Cody was arrested in Portland, Ore., last year carrying a suitcase that contained nearly $1 million in cash, authorities said.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “Feds Say Suspect in $100M Scam Is Fugitive Harvard Law Grad Charged in 1984 Client Funds Theft”

ABAJournal.com: “Claimed mastermind of $100M veterans charity fraud, a long-ago Harvard law grad, awaits jury verdict”

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