Friday, December 15, 2017
Public safety

Authorities find $1 million cash in storage unit rented by Navy Vets' Thompson

Federal agents seeking clues about Bobby Thompson's true identity got a warrant to search a storage locker in Oregon on Wednesday and found two suitcases packed with about $1 million in cash.

U.S. marshals who tracked down the fugitive believe it is money Thompson collected as part of a sham charity operation he ran for years in Tampa. His charity, U.S. Navy Veterans Association, reported collecting millions of dollars from across the nation in the name of needy veterans.

Also stashed in the Portland storage unit were boxes full of birth certificates, credit reports and other personal information needed to steal the identities of dozens of unsuspecting people.

Late Wednesday, agents with the U.S. Marshals Service and Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation were still digging through boxes of documents. The cash was in $20, $50 and $100 bills and took several hours to count.

Pete Elliott, U.S. marshal for northern Ohio, and Mike DeWine, Ohio's attorney general, jointly announced the discovery two days after Elliott's men apprehended Thompson, 66, following a six-month, cross country search.

Thompson had disappeared in June 2010 after it was revealed in a Tampa Bay Times series that his nationwide charity gave generously to politicians but little to veterans. Soon after, authorities in Ohio, where Navy Veterans raised nearly $2 million, indicted Thompson on charges of money laundering, fraud and identity theft.

When agents arrested Thompson on Monday night in Portland as he was returning home from a bar, he was carrying three wallets, all with different identification papers. It was under one of those stolen identities, Alan Lacy, that he had rented a storage unit in the 100 block of Belmont NE in Portland. It was there that agents discovered the cash and stolen personal information Wednesday evening.

Elliott said Thompson had stayed on the move. While in the Northeast, he started another charity, the Plymouth Rock Society of Christian Pilgrims. But he managed to stay one step ahead of the law by changing identities.

The storage unit with the cash and piles of personal information had been arranged using the name of a former firefighter in New Mexico. Thompson, who used as many as a dozen different names during his years as fugitive, is in federal custody in Oregon. He is expected to be extradited within the next few days to Ohio. Thompson's real identity is still unknown.

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