The man known as Bobby Thompson lost his public defender at a hearing in Cleveland on Thursday morning. Thompson, who ran the sham charity U.S. Navy Veterans Association for nearly a decade, has been jailed in Cuyahoga County since early May on fraud and money laundering charges.
Mark Stanton, Thompson's public defender, had asked to be relieved of the case. He told Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Annette Butler that one attorney can't handle such a complicated case, especially on a public defender's pay. Stanton, who has been practicing for 30 years, said taking the Thompson case would be a disservice to his other clients.
"I reluctantly, begrudgingly and, quite honestly, disdainfully, had to file that particular motion," he said during a 10-minute tirade. Thompson, who limped into the courtroom, declined to represent himself, despite having filed numerous motions on his own initiative.
Thompson was captured in Portland, Ore., on April 30 after nearly two years as a fugitive. He had disappeared in June 2010, shortly after a series in the Tampa Bay Times exposed Navy Veterans, with headquarters in Tampa, to have nonexistent directors, offices that were mail drops and few donations going to veterans. Authorities also discovered Thompson was using a stolen identity; his real identity is still unknown.
Information from Cleveland Plain Dealer was used in this story.