The trial of John Donald Cody, 65, known by the pseudonym Bobby Thompson, began in Cleveland, Ohio, today, reports Cleveland.com.
Cody stands accused of defrauding people across 41 states to the tune of around $100 million through his charity, United States Navy Veterans Association, based out of Tampa, Florida.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Cody Had Been Trying to Subpoena Leading Politicians Including John Boehner
Cody is accused of embezzling donations and then redistributing large amounts to leading U.S. politicians, including Speaker of the House John Boehner. As part of his legal defense, Cody wanted Boehner to testify that his political donations were legal and that those who contributed to his charity knew where the money was really going.
Authorities are maintaining those who contributed didn’t know that the money was political lobbying and that little or none of the donations benefitted veterans.
2. The Prosecution Says it’s Irrelevant Where the Money Went
Brad Tammaro, an assistant attorney general, told the court on September 30 that it’s irrelevant to the charges what Cody is alleged to have done with the money. Cody is charged with theft and money laundering.
3. Cody’s Dealings Were Uncovered in 2010
An expose run by the The Tampa Bay Times in Florida exposed Cody’s fraudulent ways in March 2010. They uncovered that the charity’s offices were empty, it’s directors were a bunch of made-up people and that “Bobby Thompson” was really John Donald Cody.
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4. Cody Spent Nearly 2 Years on the Run
By June 2010, federal agents were planning criminal charges against Cody, but the alleged fraudster was one step ahead as he went on the run from the law. It was March 2012 before federal agents finally caught up with him in Portland, Oregon. Cody had spent the two years bouncing from state-to-state creating new identities, and in one instance, inventing a new charity.
5. Cody is a Former Military Intelligence Officer
Cody switched his identity to that of Bobby Thompson as from his previous life he was wanted by the FBI for espionage and fraud. While in the army he rose to the rank of Captain.
6. He Practiced Law in Arizona in the 1980s
After graduating the University of Virginia, Cody attained a law degree from Harvard, and went to practice law in Sierra Vista, Arizona between 1980 and 1984. He became the target of an FBI investigation when his clients began accusing him of stealing money.
The Daily Mail reports:
According to a federal warrant, dated May 4, 1987, out of the Eastern District of Virginia, Cody is charged 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.
One former colleague, Dennis Lusk, referred to Cody as “bizzare.”
7. One of His Belongings When He Was Captured Was a Copy of ‘Catch Me If You Can’
When Cody was tracked down in Portland, amongst his few possessions was a DVD copy of the movie Catch Me If You Can. The Leonardo Di Caprio movie about a fraudster who makes his way across the United States before being tracked down by federal agents, based on the true story of Frank Abagnale.
Cody was living in a boarding house at the time of his arrest with authorities believing he been, for varying amounts of time, in Massachusetts, Arizona, New Mexico, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Indiana, Washington and, finally, Oregon.
8. When He Was Arrested, Cody Would Only Refer to Himself as ‘Mr. X’
So far, agents where only able to recover around $900,000, a long ways short of the $100 million he’s alleged to have embezzled. He refused to reveal his true identity and it wasn’t until fingerprint analysis were done that investigators determined he was John Donald Cody. When initially brought to court, he dared officials to try to discover his true identity.
9. Cody Practiced Law Close to a Major U.S. Military Intelligence Hub
While Cody was a working lawyer in Arizona, he was based in Sierra Vista, just a short drive away from Fort Huachuca, where the 111th Military Intelligence Brigade is based. This installation is used primarily as an elite training facility for intelligence officers, including training in interrogation and counter intelligence.
10. He Used to Dress in Disguises Before He Was on the Run
Possibly in preparation for a life-on-the-lam, Cody used to wear an outrageous wig during his time as a respected lawyer in Sierra Vista, reports AZ Central. He would also use a clear gel to make his skin appear greasier and would constantly appear to be crying.