More than three years ago, reporter Mike Sluss and I broke the story about how a con man made $67,500 in campaign contributions to Virginia lawmakers. His putative name was Bobby Thompson, and no kidding, with those 2009 contributions Thompson bought himself a 2010 law enacted by the Virginia General Assembly. It allowed him to continue scamming Virginians.
Today, “Bobby Thompson” goes on trial on fraud charges in Cleveland, Ohio. His real name is John Donald Cody. He’s a UVa and Harvard Law graduate with a background in military intelligence, and he faces up to 30 years in prison. Last week it was announced that the many and varied campaign contributions Cody made as “Bobby Thompson” would play no role in the upcoming trial. Let’s look back on events regarding those.
In 2009, Thompson was a ‘director’ of the U.S. Navy Veterans Association. It was a fictitious group, with fictitious chapters in almost every state. Each of those had a fictitious board of directors comprised of fictitious people, an address that was a mail drop and a telephone number that a voicemail drop.
Using hired call centers from out of state, the U.S. Navy Veterans Association plucked as much as $2.6 million from Virginians in one year alone, and as much as $100 million nationwide over the scam’s eight or so years of existence.
Roughly 80 percent of that money went to the boiler-room call centers; where the rest went is anyone’s guess. A lot of it likely ended up with Thompson, who was arrested in 2012 in Portland, Ore. and found with a suitcase containing almost $1 million in cash. Read more »