CLEVELAND — A onetime fugitive charged in a $100 million multistate fraud under the guise of helping Navy veterans went on trial on Monday after losing a bid to subpoena U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and other leading Ohio politicians.
A judge in Cleveland rejected the renewed defense request to subpoena the politicians in an attempt to show that the defendant’s political donations were legal.
The defendant calls himself Bobby Thompson, but authorities have identified him as lawyer and former military intelligence officer John Donald Cody.
Mr. Thompson, 67, is charged with defrauding people who donated to a reputed charity for Navy veterans, the United States Navy Veterans Association in Tampa.
The alleged fraud spanned 41 states, including up to $2 million in Ohio. Authorities said little, if any, of the money collected by the charity was used to benefit veterans.
The defendant showered politicians, many of them Republicans, with political donations.
His attorney, Joseph Patituce, said subpoenas for testimony by Mr. Boehner, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, two DeWine predecessors, and other leading Ohio political figures were needed to prove the charity’s political contributions were legal.
But Brad Tammaro, an assistant attorney general handling the trial, said where the money went was unrelated to the charges of money laundering and theft.
Mr. Patituce hinted at a defense focused on the CIA and government secrets, but Mr. Tammaro said that if “by some fantasy” there was such government involvement, it did not exonerate the defendant.
His attorney said any fraud involved solicitors, not his client.
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