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Navy Veterans Investigation

Bobby Thompson speaks Monday during his sentencing on racketeering, theft and money laundering charges. Thompson, whose real name is John Donald Cody, complained about alleged abusive treatment by jailers while locked up during the trial. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison for defrauding donors of up to $100 million in 41 states through the United States Navy Veterans Association, a charity he ran in Tampa. Associated Press

Bobby Thompson sentenced to 28 years in Navy Veterans charity scam

Ohio's case against Bobby Thompson came to a close Monday with a judge in Cleveland handing a 28-year sentence to the man convicted of running a nationwide charity scam from an Ybor City duplex. As a special punishment, the judge ordered that the mastermind behind the fraudulent U.S. Navy Veterans Association spend …


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Curious about its donations to local political figures, reporter Jeff Testerman and researcher John Martin began trying to unravel the mystery behind the Navy Veterans charity. In a six-month investigation, the Times could find only one officer in the entire organization, and the nonprofit declined to reveal where its millions of dollars of income went. Its headquarters: a dilapidated duplex in Ybor City.

Charity leader's sideline: politics

IRS-approved charities are not supposed to show partisanship nor endorse politicians. Yet Bobby Thompson, the head of Navy Veterans Association, raised thousands of dollars through a political action commmittee associated with Navy Veterans, all the while hobnobbing with politicans from George W. Bush to Charlie Crist to Pam Iorio.

  1. Navy Vets charity officials scrambled under scrutiny, documents show


    TAMPA — The final months of the U.S. Navy Veterans Association were marked by frantic attempts to fend off reporters and investigators who suspected the charity was a fraud.

  2. As Navy Veterans charity was being exposed as fake, there was a face that was real


    Bobby Thompson was getting nervous.

    Karmika Rubin, right, shakes hands with Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee as Gee accepts a Navy Vets donation to the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches in 2008. Next to Gee is Blanca Contreras, who was sentenced to five years in prison Wednesday in Ohio, and Bobby Thompson is at left.
  3. Key player in Navy Vets scam sentenced to five years in prison


    CLEVELAND — The first person to be held accountable for the multistate, multimillion-dollar scam known as the U.S. Navy Veterans Association was sentenced to five years in an Ohio prison on Wednesday.

    Blanca Contreras,  39, center,  of Tampa reacts to her sentence as attorneys Walt Edwards 
and Mary Kay Tylee listen during her sentencing hearing in Cleveland on Wednesday.
  4. Charity leader's sideline: politics


    Second of two parts

    It's an important rule of thumb for organizations the IRS has certified as tax-exempt nonprofits: They should be nonpartisan and refrain from interfering in political contests.

    Bobby Thompson, left, poses with Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee, as Gee accepts a Navy Veterans Association donation to the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches. With them are association volunteers Blanca Contreras, left, and Karmika Rubin, since named special counsel.
  5. Multimillion-dollar nonprofit charity for Navy veterans steeped in secrecy


    First of two parts

    Suppertime on a Sunday evening, a phone rings in suburban Tampa. Some 1,200 miles away, in a call center in Michigan, a cheerful telemarketer starts his pitch for a donation to the U.S. Navy Veterans Association.

Bobby Thompson was taken into custody Monday evening in Porland, Oregon.  Thompson is the alleged mastermind behind a massive sham veterans' charity that bilked the public of millions of dollars. He is in federal custody this morning.  Multnomah County Sheriff's Office

Photo gallery: U.S. Navy Veterans Scam