Different pictures painted of alleged fraud mastermind

John Donald Cody allegedly ran a $100 million Navy charity fraud scheme.
Mark Duncan/Associated Press
John Donald Cody allegedly ran a $100 million Navy charity fraud scheme.

CLEVELAND — A mysterious onetime fugitive charged with running a $100 million multistate Navy charity fraud was portrayed at his trial Monday by prosecutors as a lying thief and by his defense as a law-abiding fund-raiser.

Assistant Ohio Attorney General Brad Tammaro told the jury that the defendant, who calls himself Bobby Thompson but has been identified by authorities as Harvard-trained lawyer John Donald Cody, 67, was the coordinator of the alleged scam.

But Joseph Patituce, the court-appointed defense lawyer, said the defendant’s work was legal and followed federal tax regulations.


The defendant has been charged with defrauding donors to a reputed charity, the United States Navy Veterans Association in Tampa, Fla.

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He showered politicians, often Republicans, with political donations. Last week, the judge rejected a renewed defense request to subpoena testimony from leading Ohio Republicans including US House Speaker John A. Boehner.

‘‘This defendant was responsible for taking millions of dollars out of Ohio,’’ Tammaro said. He was a thief unable to tell the truth, Tammaro said.

Tammaro said that the defendant shifted the money among various accounts, paid fund-raising costs and a small staff, and that the rest disappeared in ATM withdrawals and through checks made out to the defendant or to cash.

Patituce told jurors the prosecution lacked proof of the charges and hinted again the defendant was involved in a secret government project.