CLEVELAND — Leading Ohio Republicans including U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and the state attorney general have been subpoenaed to testify in a $100 million multi-state fraud trial as the defense tries to show the defendant’s GOP-leaning political donations were legal.
Court documents show subpoenas also were issued for testimony by two predecessors of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who has directed the fraud investigation.
The man who calls himself Bobby Thompson is scheduled to go on trial Monday in Cleveland on charges of defrauding people who donated to a reputed charity for Navy veterans, the United States Navy Veterans Association. He has showered politicians, often Republicans, with political donations.
The defense wants to show that the political donations were legal, defense attorney Joseph Patituce said Wednesday.
DeWine’s office said he will seek to quash the subpoena.
“The attorney general had no personal knowledge of the crimes Bobby Thompson committed when he stole millions of dollars by running a sham charity that was supposed to help our veterans,” spokeswoman Lisa Peterson Hackley said in an email.
The speaker’s office had no immediate comment.
Thompson has been identified by authorities as Harvard-trained lawyer and former military intelligence officer John Donald Cody.
He disappeared for almost two years after his 2010 indictment on theft, money laundering and other charges tied to his Tampa, Fla.-based charity. He was tracked and arrested last year in Portland, Ore., where agents and deputy marshals found him with fake IDs and a suitcase containing $980,000 in cash.
DeWine said the crimes of which Thompson is accused can be proved without delving deeply into his political giving. He said last week that the political donations are “kind of a sidebar to the scam” and are “not really an essential part of proving the elements of the crime of him taking this money.”
Politicians who received donations from him, according to campaign finance filings, include former President George W. Bush and former presidential contenders Mitt Romney, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani.
DeWine said he believes photos Thompson had taken with high-profile Republicans such as Bush, Boehner and GOP strategist Karl Rove were used to soften up potential donors.
Besides Boehner, Thompson gave 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 subpoenaed by the defense.