Monday, September 24, 2018
Business

Ex-Navy Veterans charity aide suspended from practicing law

Karmika V. Rubin, former executive assistant and special counsel to Bobby Thompson and the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, has been suspended from practicing law in Florida.

But the suspension is unrelated to her work with the fraudulent veterans charity and its founder, who was convicted on racketeering, money laundering and identity theft charges late last year.

Rubin, 40, was suspended by Florida's Supreme Court in December for failing to respond to an inquiry by the state bar association. The group was investigating a complaint that Rubin had misappropriated $6,600 in a client's account. According to the petition to the court, Rubin repeatedly refused to comply with a subpoena for financial records. "The non-compliance was willful," the petition said.

Rubin, who has offices in St. Petersburg and Spring Hill, did not respond to a call for comment on her suspension.

A graduate of Stetson University College of Law, Rubin was sworn in as a lawyer in February 2010 and immediately became "special counsel" for Navy Veterans in Tampa. Rubin, a St. Petersburg native, had been working since 2008 as an assistant to Thompson. While there, Rubin helped with everything from an IRS audit to lobbying efforts.

In March 2010, stories in the Tampa Bay Times exposed Navy Veterans as an elaborate scam. Though it had raised more than $100 million nationwide over eight years, the charity spent little on veterans while donating generously to politicians. Its state offices were mail drops, its directors fictitious, even Thompson's identity was stolen.

As the charity came under increasing scrutiny, Rubin briefly served on its board of directors. When her boss became a fugitive and the charity folded in mid 2010, Rubin, who lives in Weeki Wachee, launched her law practice.

Investigators in Ohio, who pursued the successful case against Thompson and another assistant, Blanca Contreras, have expressed a continuing interest in Rubin. Documents introduced in court show she routinely cashed Navy Veterans' checks at Thompson's request. Contreras is serving a five-year sentence for admitting to a similar role. Rubin's former boss, whose real name is John Donald Cody, is also in an Ohio prison, serving 28 years for masterminding the Navy Veterans' scam.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Kris Hundley can be reached at [email protected]

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