Trial begins for man accused of fleecing donors of millions of dollars

Sept. 30, 2013 at 12:27 PM
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CLEVELAND, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- A fundraiser accused of running a charity scam and fleecing contributors of more $100 million is on trial in Cleveland.

Jury selection in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court began Monday to strike a panel that would listen to testimony in the trial of Bobby Thompson, accused of running a national charity scam in the name of veterans, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported.

Prosecutors allege Thompson is a stolen identity used by John Cody, a fugitive from IRS fraud charges, when he led the U.S. Navy Veterans Association and swindled more than $100 million from donors nationwide from 2002-2010.

Among the charges Thompson faces are identity fraud, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and money laundering. He disappeared in 2010 after investigations revealed the charity was largely telemarketers, bank accounts and rented mailboxes, The Plain Dealer said. He was tracked to Portland, Ore., where he was arrested in 2012. He has been jailed in Cuyahoga County since his arrest.

Last week a judge quashed defense subpoenas issued for several prominent Ohio Republicans, including U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, who had received political donations from Thompson. The defense team said it wanted to call witnesses to show Thompson made legal political donations from charity contributions, not just pocketing the money as prosecutors alleged.

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