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U.S. Navy Veterans scam

Once under the radar,
now in the spotlight

Bobby Thompson ran the U.S. Navy Veterans Association in Tampa for eight years, raising nearly $100 million from donors nationwide. In March 2010, the Tampa Bay Times exposed Navy Veterans as a sham. Its offices were UPS mail drops, its directors nonexistent, its donations to former military minimal. Even Thompson's identity was fake.

In June 2010, just as state and federal officials were preparing criminal charges, Thompson disappeared. He was caught April 30, 2012, by U.S. Marshals in Portland, Ore., and arrested on charges of money laundering, fraud and identity theft. Thompson had spent two years moving around the country, constantly changing identities, even starting a new charity.

It turns out Bobby Thompson whose true identity, as determined from his fingerprints on Oct. 1, 2012 is John Donald Cody, a former military intelligence officer wanted by the FBI for fraud and espionage.

The plot thickens. Follow the Times' continuing coverage.

The arrest and the aftermath
On the run
A 2010 Tampa Bay Times investigation

Under the radar

Is the U.S. Navy Veterans a helpful charity or an illusion? Try finding the leaders and following the money.

The Ybor duplex: Thompson lived in the left side. The right side doubled as offices for the nonprofit Navy Veterans Association and for NAVPAC, a political action committee. After the Times started asking questions, the PAC shut down and Thompson cleared out. His landlord said he left no forwarding address.
The man behind the charity: In documents filed with the IRS, the U.S. Navy Veterans Association included the names of 85 directors and officers. For six months the St. Petersburg Times searched for all of them but could find only one: Bobby Thompson.
The national headquarters: "Suite 275" is a mailbox at a UPS store in Washington D.C.

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