Saturday, June 16, 2018
News Roundup

Defense rests with no witnesses called in Bobby Thompson case

CLEVELAND — Jurors here were shocked Tuesday afternoon when the defense in the Bobby Thompson case rested without calling a single witness.

Not even Thompson himself.

It was the latest twist in a lengthy trial that has been alternately boring and bizarre.

Thompson, 66, has been charged by Ohio officials with fraud, money laundering and identity theft in connection with his operation of U.S. Navy Veterans Association in Tampa.

For the past five weeks, jurors have listened to prosecution witnesses testify that Thompson siphoned money from charity accounts, concocted phony directors, offices and receipts, and stole the identities of more than a dozen people. Over eight years, the charity raised more than $100 million nationwide, with more than $3 million from Ohio residents.

With the state resting its case last week, the jury pool of four men and 11 women were prepared to hear from the defense.

But other than a stack of documents to review during deliberations, the jury got nothing.

In his instructions after the announcement, Judge Steven E. Gall emphasized that defendants have no obligation to take the stand.

"And the fact that he doesn't should not be considered by you," he told jurors.

Closing arguments are set for this morning.

Before the jury was called, Joseph Patituce, Thompson's court-appointed lawyer, told the judge that Thompson was exercising his constitutional right to remain silent due to his "concern regarding his physical and mental abilities."

Patituce said his client was especially concerned about being cross-examined by the prosecutor, Ohio Assistant Attorney General Brad Tammaro.

Thompson's change of heart came as a surprise to everyone, including his lawyer. For weeks Patituce had been saying that his client, a Harvard-educated lawyer, planned to take the stand. During the trial, Thompson seemed engaged, writing notes on a yellow legal pad and passing them to his attorney.

Though he has been jailed since April 2012, Thompson was always professionally dressed in a black suit from Goodwill, pressed shirt and tie, his salt-and-pepper hair carefully arranged in a trademark pompadour.

Tuesday morning, however, Thompson reportedly refused to leave his cell in the isolation block at Cuyahoga County jail. When sheriff's deputies escorted him into a courtroom full of reporters and cameramen after more than an hour's delay, Thompson's shirt was untucked and unbuttoned, his hair in disarray, his eyeglasses gone.

He told the judge he needed time to clean up before deciding whether to testify. After a 45-minute recess, Thompson was brought back to the courtroom. Though his shirt was buttoned, Thompson still looked unkempt.

Within minutes, his attorney told the judge that Thompson would not take the stand.

During a break in the proceedings, Thompson's lawyer said his client was found last Tuesday pounding his head against the steel bars and concrete walls of the court's holding cell. Thompson declined medical attention and was found competent by the jail's psychiatric staff.

Thompson ran Navy Veterans from a dilapidated apartment in Ybor City from 2002 until mid 2010, raising more than $100 million in donations nationwide. When questions arose about the charity and he was indicted by states including Ohio and Florida, Thompson became a fugitive.

Authorities learned that he had stolen the Thompson identity from a man in Washington state and was using more than a dozen other stolen identities. His real name is John Donald Cody, a former military intelligence officer who had been on the FBI's most-wanted list, charged with fraud, since 1987.

Thompson faces 24 charges that carry possible sentences ranging from a minimum of 10 to more than 80 years.

Comments
They fled Puerto Rico with their possessions, which they lost last week in an apartment fire

They fled Puerto Rico with their possessions, which they lost last week in an apartment fire

RIVERVIEW — It was the most routine of errands, shopping for a cooler and some shorts.Joel Jaca and Arelys Gomez, both 40, had turned an important corner, miles away from hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.They had finally gotten out of their relief hotel...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Peering into the crystal baseball to see what Rays could look like in 2019

Peering into the crystal baseball to see what Rays could look like in 2019

The Rays are still talking, as they should, about playing for something this season. The reality is that almost every move they've made, going back to the end of last season, and in some cases further, has been about 2019 and beyond.Clearing out vete...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays lose again to Yankees, this time 4-1

Rays lose again to Yankees, this time 4-1

NEW YORK — Kevin Cash was not going to go all Lou Piniella on his Rays, raging and ripping and roaring over their latest mess, a 4-1 Saturday loss to the Yankees that didn't feel that close.Which is too bad because Piniella, the volcanic former...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Updated: 1 hour ago
Mazzaro’s Italian Market closed after Friday night warehouse fire

Mazzaro’s Italian Market closed after Friday night warehouse fire

ST. PETERSBURG — Mazzaro’s Italian Market will be closed throughout the weekend after a warehouse fire broke out Friday.A St. Petersburg Police officer noticed smoke coming from the market at 22nd Ave. N around midnight Friday, said St. Petersburg F...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Catholic diocese celebrates 50 years in Tampa Bay and forges plan for the future

Catholic diocese celebrates 50 years in Tampa Bay and forges plan for the future

ST. PETERSBURG — At his installation as spiritual leader of Tampa Bay’s Catholics, Bishop Gregory Parkes promised to take time to get to know his people, listen to what they had to say and work to discern a plan for the future.On Sunday, 17 months la...
Updated: 3 hours ago
A fentanyl death. A crackdown on opioid dealers. Will it help?

A fentanyl death. A crackdown on opioid dealers. Will it help?

TAMPA — Loueita Hargens had known for years how her son Bradley Dykes would die. She had seen him cycle through drugs of choice, had lost track of the number of times he’d wound up in the hospital or prison.A recovering alcoholic herself, she cut him...
Updated: 3 hours ago
AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

Since 2002, the AP World History course has covered thousands of years of human activity around the planet, starting 10,000 years back. But now the College Board, which owns the Advanced Placement program, wants to cut out most of that history and st...
Updated: 4 hours ago
A woman went to check her corn - and was swallowed by a python

A woman went to check her corn - and was swallowed by a python

For the second time in barely more than a year, an Indonesian villager has been swallowed whole by a python.Wa Tiba, 54, left her home on Muna island to visit her cornfield on Thursday night, according to the Jakarta Post.The field was about a half m...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Climate change is moving fish around faster than laws can handle, study says

Climate change is moving fish around faster than laws can handle, study says

Fish don’t follow international boundaries or understand economic trade agreements. Different species live in regions all over the globe. If that wasn’t complicated enough, they also migrate as they age."It’s like trying to raise cattle when you’ve t...
Updated: 8 hours ago