Testimony to Begin in Navy Charity Fraud Case


CLEVELAND -- The prosecution is ready to begin presenting its case against a onetime fugitive on trial on charges of masterminding a $100 million multistate fraud under the guise of helping Navy veterans.

A jury was selected last week, and testimony is expected to begin Monday following opening statements by both sides in the case.

The 67-year-old defendant calls himself Bobby Thompson, but authorities identified him as Harvard-trained lawyer and former military intelligence officer John Donald Cody.

He is charged with defrauding donors to a reputed charity, the United States Navy Veterans Association based in Tampa, Fla. He could face 40 years in prison if convicted. The judge mentioned the possibility of a plea deal last week, but both sides discounted that possibility.

The judge rejected a renewed defense request to subpoena testimony from leading Ohio Republicans including U.S. House Speaker John Boehner.

The defendant has showered politicians, often Republicans, with donations, and the defense wanted to show that they were legal.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, also the subject of a subpoena move, said the alleged crimes can be proved without delving deeply into his political giving. DeWine's office is handling the trial.

Besides Boehner, political gifts went to almost every member of the state's GOP congressional delegation and to former state Attorneys General Jim Petro and Betty Montgomery, both of whom were defense subpoena targets.

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