Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Business

Fugitive sham veterans' charity creator Bobby Thompson may be hiding out in New Mexico

RECOMMENDED READING


Time may be running out for Bobby Thompson, who has been a fugitive from the law for more than a year.

The one-time Tampa resident, accused of raising nearly $100 million through a sham veterans charity, disappeared in 2010 just before he was indicted in Ohio on charges of fraud and money laundering.

Now it appears Thompson may be hiding in New Mexico, where the U.S. Marshals Service believes he has changed his physical appearance and adopted stolen identities to avoid prosecution.

The Marshals Service announced Tuesday that it is seeking the public's help to find Thompson, who ran his U.S. Navy Veterans Association out of a run-down duplex in Tampa. In a news release, the Marshals Service released two names adopted by Thompson and a series of pictures, dating from before his disappearance, showing him with various hairstyles and facial hair.

Pete Elliott, U.S. marshal for the northern district of Ohio, declined to say specifically why investigators have focused on New Mexico. His agency's news release noted that Thompson may have lived in that state and had "specific knowledge" of the Albuquerque area.

Elliott said Thompson's picture is now on digital billboards in Albuquerque. "We've dedicated a full squad to this and I feel very confident we will apprehend him," Elliott said. "I know he's been very slippery in the past, but people always leave behind some clues, and it's our job to tie those clues together."

Thompson started Navy Veterans in 2002 and built a charity that claimed to have headquarters in Washington and chapters nationwide, raising millions of dollars in donations.

In March 2010, however, a Times investigation revealed that, other than Thompson, none of its dozens of officers or directors existed and its offices were merely mail drops. The stories showed that Navy Veterans also provided few services for veterans while funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to conservative politicians nationwide.

Ohio indicted Thompson and an associate, Blanca Contreras of Tampa, in August 2010. Contreras was sentenced to five years in prison a year later. Thompson has remained at large.

Though Ohio's criminal investigators have been working on the case for about a year and a half, they did not seek the U.S. Marshals' help until November. A spokesman for Ohio's attorney general declined to comment on the reason for the delay.

On Tuesday, authorities said the burly, bearded man known as "The Commander" has used several aliases. Among them: Ronnie Brittain and Elmer Dosier.

Brittain lives in New Mexico. He told the Tampa Bay Times that he was visited by six federal marshals Monday evening and was asked about Thompson. Brittain said he has never heard of or seen him.

Elmer Dosier, who once lived in New Mexico, was a Vietnam War veteran and former police officer who died in 1999. The Marshals Service has interviewed Dosier's son in Indiana.

Anyone with information is asked to call 1-866-492-6833 or text keyword WANTED and the tip to 847411. Callers can remain anonymous and there is a potential cash reward, though Elliott declined to say how much.

Kris Hundley can be reached at [email protected] or (727)892-2996. John Martin can be reached at [email protected] or (813)226-3372.

     
Comments
A new threat this shopping season: toys that can spy on kids

A new threat this shopping season: toys that can spy on kids

ST. PETERSBURG — Not all sinister toys are as obvious as a Chucky doll. Many present more subtle threats — choking hazards, high lead content, privacy concerns. And as the biggest shopping season of the year kicks off, consumer advocates are urging s...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Indian automaker plant is latest sign of Detroit comeback

Indian automaker plant is latest sign of Detroit comeback

It has been years since Detroit, birthplace of the American auto industry, was a steady producer of the manufacturing jobs that defined it as the Motor City. But its comeback is entering a new phase.The latest milestone came this week, with the annou...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Big Tobacco’s anti-smoking ads begin after decade of delay

Big Tobacco’s anti-smoking ads begin after decade of delay

Associated PressWASHINGTON — Decades after they were banned from the airwaves, Big Tobacco companies return to prime-time television this weekend — but not by choice. Under court order, the industry for the first time will be forced to advertise the ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Ybor ’s first public school, long gone, still has a story to tell about district’s history

Ybor ’s first public school, long gone, still has a story to tell about district’s history

TAMPAIt’s been more than a century since Ybor City’s first public school was demolished on the plot of land now identified as 1311 E Eighth Ave.For the past 22 years, the popular concert venue New World Brewery took up the space and one next door. No...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Barricades reinforce security for holiday events on St. Petersburg’s downtown waterfront

Barricades reinforce security for holiday events on St. Petersburg’s downtown waterfront

ST. PETERSBURG — World and national tragedies are changing the city’s approach to security for special events at North Straub Park.With the approach of the holidays, concrete barricades have been erected at a section of the park’s perimeter, where Fo...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Copa Airlines to fly daily nonstop from Tampa to Panama next summer

Copa Airlines to fly daily nonstop from Tampa to Panama next summer

TAMPA — Panama’s Copa Airlines, which four years ago became the first airline to offer service between Panama and Tampa Bay, said it is increasing its nonstop service between Tampa International Airport and Panama City to daily flights starting in Ju...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Irma did not stop tourists from setting record visits to Florida so far in 2017

Irma did not stop tourists from setting record visits to Florida so far in 2017

Despite Hurricane Irma, Florida hit another record high number in tourists visiting the state in the first nine months of this year, according to figures released this week.Visit Florida, the state’s tourism bureau, said 88.2 million visitors came to...
Updated: 11 hours ago
FCC chairman unveils proposal to repeal net neutrality

FCC chairman unveils proposal to repeal net neutrality

WASHINGTON — Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Tuesday followed through on his pledge to repeal 2015 regulations designed to ensure that internet service providers treat all online content and apps equally, setting up a showdown ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Crime Stoppers, Straz Foundation still working out Seminole Heights reward money

Crime Stoppers, Straz Foundation still working out Seminole Heights reward money

TAMPA — You can collect $110,000 in reward money for information leading to an arrest in the Seminole Heights killings, but for now you’ll have to make two stops.The David A. Straz Foundation announced Monday it would contribute $10,000 to a reward f...
Published: 11/21/17
Hurricane Irma hurt some Tampa Bay home sales even in October

Hurricane Irma hurt some Tampa Bay home sales even in October

Pinellas County home sales took another hurricane-related hit in October as the rest of the Tampa Bay area bounced back from Hurricane Irma.But while prices in all four counties rose once again, the rate of increase continues to slow. Hillsborough’s...
Updated: 10 hours ago