Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Steven E. Gall sentenced John Donald Cody, also known as "Bobby Thompson," to 28 years in prison and fined him more than $6 million for scamming millions from people who thought they were donating money to help veterans.
Gall also ordered Cody to spend every Veterans Day in solitary confinement.
“It’s horrible when a scammer victimizes people, but to do it under the cover story of helping veterans is just plain evil,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said. “Ohioans thought their hard-earned money was going to help honorable veterans. I am glad Bobby Thompson/John Donald Cody is now being held accountable for his despicable actions.”
Gall fined Cody $6,345,114.57 and ordered him to pay $330,778.70 to the Ohio Attorney General's Office for investigation and prosecution costs.
In regards to the $981,650 discovered in a Bobby Thompson suitcase in Portland, Oregon, Gall said he would respect the 2011 Franklin County Court $3.9 million default judgment awarded in the civil case against Thompson's fraudulent U.S. Navy Veterans Association (USNVA). The money will go to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to be distributed to legitimate veterans’ charities. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office previously distributed $101,000 to legitimate veterans’ charities using money that came from bank account assets seized early in the investigation.
The Ohio Attorney General's Office spent years investigating Cody, who is believed to have collected more than $2 million of Ohioans’ money and tens of millions from residents in 40 other states who thought they were donating to military veterans via the USNVA.
Cody was convicted on Nov. 14, 2013, on 23 charges including engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, identity fraud, tampering with records, complicity to tampering with records, complicity to money laundering, and complicity to theft. The conviction followed a six-week trial that included more than 100 exhibits and 40 witnesses. It took jurors just three hours to reach their decision.
“We are pleased that this sophisticated con artist has been brought to justice, but there is still work to be done,” DeWine said. “John Donald Cody wasn’t the first con artist to exploit veterans and he won’t be the last. That’s why we’re encouraging all Ohioans to watch for and report questionable veterans’ charities.”
Veterans and other Ohioans can follow these steps to identify questionable charitable activities:
Monitor veterans’ organizations that solicit in your community.
Contact your local veterans’ services commission to determine if the commission is familiar with the veterans’ charity or for suggestions on how to help veterans in the community.
Be cautious about a charity whose name is similar to that of a well-established and reputable charity.
Attend trainings conducted by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office on charitable compliance.
Check to determine if a charitable organization is registered with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
Be skeptical of individuals soliciting outside malls or shopping centers. They may not be vetted or endorsed by the stores.
For information about a charity or to file a complaint about a questionable organization, contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov.