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Minnesota fines fugitive founder of Tampa-based Navy vets fake charity

To collect, they'll have to find him.

Minnesota regulators have levied a $21,000 fine against the man known as Bobby Thompson, the fugitive founder of the Tampa-based U.S. Navy Veterans Association, for making illegal campaign contributions.

The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board ruled this week that Thompson, who stole the identity of a Washington man, broke the law by using the false name to give $13,000 to GOP candidates and committees in that state from 2008 to 2010.

Thompson was also linked to a contribution made to Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidate Marty Seifert under the name Maria D'Annuzio.

A handwritten note from Thompson that accompanied the contribution indicated D'Annuzio was a Navy Veterans employee. But investigators were unable to find her.

The board found no cause to believe the Seifert campaign or the other recipients of the contributions, including the House Republican Campaign Committee and Patriot PAC, were aware of the stolen identity.

Thompson and the sham veterans charity he founded were the focus of "Under the Radar," a St. Petersburg Times investigative series, which found that none of the people listed on the association's elaborate website as members of the national board of directors or state officers existed.

Using a stolen name, Social Security number and date of birth, Thompson made political donations at a steadily increasing rate after he established the Navy Veterans charity and hired telemarketing firms to finance its operation.

By April 2010, Thompson's name had been used to make contributions totaling more than $208,000.

Thompson also set up a political action committee called U.S. Navy Veterans for Good Government, or NAVPAC. It reported receiving $146,228, but Federal Election Commission records show he was the only donor.

For eight years, Thompson ran the Navy Veterans and NAVPAC from a bedraggled Ybor City duplex. He dissolved NAVPAC and abandoned the duplex as he was about to be exposed, moved to New York City, then vanished last June.

His whereabouts and real name remain a mystery. In October, an Ohio grand jury indicted him.

Minnesota fines fugitive founder of Tampa-based Navy vets fake charity 06/02/11 [Last modified: Thursday, June 2, 2011 10:35pm]
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