Crazy Like a Fox—Mr. X Defense Declines Closing Statement in Charity Fraud Trial

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November 13, 2013;Washington Post

Bobby Thompson (according to the defense), aka John Donald Cody (according to the prosecution), is on trial for allegedly pulling off a $100 million charity fraud using the United States Navy Veterans Association as a front. He managed the massive money-making scheme across 41 states between 2001 and 2010 and is now coming to the end of his trial in Ohio. For the past few days, he has shown up looking like an old-timey film depiction of a “madman.” Do we believe him, or is he taking us all for another ride?

NPQ has done repeated newswires on this scam and others that use the public’s sense of responsibility to veterans and first-responders as a calling card.

According to his attorney, Cody did not testify in his own defense because he was concerned about his physical and mental well-being if he faced an aggressive cross-examination. Not to put too fine a point on it, he bloodied himself banging his head against a wall in his holding cell last week, and today he entered the courtroom with his shirt unbuttoned and his apparently unwashed long lank hair hanging in a wild way around his face.

The charges against Thompson/Cody include racketeering, money laundering, records tampering, theft and identity theft; he was in the habit of making donations to politicians, and he had $980,000 with him when captured. If Thompson/Cody has mental health issues and is indeed intimidated by the prosecution, we feel bad for him, but who the heck could believe him now?

A small personal note: I once knew a crooked kind of guy who masqueraded as having a low IQ. He was an expert, though petty, “money changer” scam artist, but once he got a little ahead of himself and tried to rob a bank. The last few days of trial featured him enraging his codefendant by showing up in a huge, rumpled, very smelly coat and mumbling happily to himself. After a short stint in a diagnostic center, he received a sentence considerably shorter than his colleague. So maybe I am a little jaded.—Ruth McCambridge