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Accused Navy vets scammer is former lawyer

The man known as “Bobby Thompson” is a former lawyer with degrees from the University of Virginia and Harvard, federal officials say.

U.S. Marshals say “Thompson” is really John D. Cody, an Army veteran and former Arizona lawyer wanted since 1987 on fraud charges.

“Thompson” is accused of running an elaborate fake veterans support group that collected millions in donations, allowing him to give to political campaigns and rub elbows with top elected officials.

In Virginia, he helped persuade lawmakers to relax charity oversight regulations, a change that was promptly reversed after the veterans scam was exposed.

A U.S. Marshal credits Google for helping to undercover the defendant’s true identity. He said an Internet search led him to an old FBI wanted poster for Cody and he noticed a resemblance to “Thompson,” reports The [Cleveland] Plain Dealer.

According to the FBI, Cody graduated from U.Va. in 1969 and earned a JD from Harvard Law School in 1972. He served in the Army as a captain in military intelligence and practiced law in Arizona from 1980 to 1984.

As a lawyer, Cody was known for his shabby clothing, flamboyant pompadour and outlandish accusations about his courtroom opponents, according to published reports.

Cody was never licensed in Virginia, according to the Virginia State Bar.

Cody was wanted in the Eastern District of Virginia for allegedly stealing money from probate accounts and seeking loans using false identities. He dropped out of sight in 1985, leaving his Corvette parked at the Phoenix airport with the keys in the ignition.

The Florida-based U.S. Navy Veterans Association headed by “Thompson” collected at least $2 million from Virginia residents and donated $55,500 to the campaign of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. After the scam came to light, the General Assembly repealed a change limiting oversight of charity fundraising, and Cuccinelli donated the Thompson contribution to veterans’ groups.

“Thompson” disappeared in 2010 but was arrested April 30 in Oregon after a nationwide manhunt.

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