Friday, May 11, 2012

This Charity Fraud You Won't Believe

by Gary Snyder

Anyone who has read Nonprofit Imperative has received a healthy dose of bizarre
behavior from the U.S. Navy Veterans Association and its executive Booby Thompson. Well, it continues.

Both Thompson and the U.S. Navy Veterans Association are frauds.

By way of background, over seven years, the man known by the name Bobby C. Thompson raised $100 million from donors believing they were supporting American Navy veterans and their families. He gave over $200,000 in political contributions. Then he disappeared.

After a two-year manhunt for the mysterious fugitive, ‘Thompson’ had amassed dozens of false identities as he moved from city to city. It all ended last week with his capture in Portland, Oregon. This week he was heard in court for the first time, and his defiant message was no surprise to the authorities he eluded and the people he had tricked: He still doesn't want anyone to know who he is.

With his mysterious background, he signs his name 'Mr. X' and he still to this day will not say who he is," said Pete Elliott, the U.S. Marshal who oversaw the manhunt. "Everything this individual has ever said appears to be a lie."

As the head of the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, he oversaw a sophisticated charity operation with chapters in 41 states, and rubbed shoulders with prominent politicians -- even attending fundraisers and posing for photos with President George W. Bush, future House Speaker John Boehner, and U.S. Sen. John McCain.
He was so confident in his ability to give the Navy Vets organization the appearance of a genuine charity, he hired Helen Mac Murray, a former prosecutor of charity fraud in the Ohio Attorney General's Office, to represent the group. As the attorney for the group she was convinced he was legit, but boy was she wrong…and she admitted it.
Authorities now say they believe Thompson had been laying the seeds of his vanishing act for years, creating false identities in cities around the country, and possibly stashing away millions of dollars in cash in storage lockers to help keep him flush. They first tracked him to Boston, and then Providence, where he lived in a small house on Broadway under the name Anderson Yazi.

William Boldin, the deputy U.S. Marshal who helped lead the manhunt, saw Thompson in a bar and he alerted his fellow agents on his BlackBerry, and they followed Thompson as he shopped for groceries under the alias Alan Lacy, and rode the local bus back to his boarding house. Once they knew where he was living, they decided to pounce.
When they handcuffed him, he was carrying three different wallets -- each one holding the credit cards, drivers licenses, social security cards and professional IDs of a different alias.
Investigators searched Thompson's house and found keys to a storage locker where he had stashed two carry-on-sized suitcases. One held stolen birth certificates, social security cards, credit reports, and other papers needed to create new identities. In the other, wrapped in bundles of newspaper, was nearly $1 million in cash. (link)  (link) (link)

Nonprofit Imperative gathers its information principally from public documents...some of which are directly quoted. Virtually all cited are in some phase of criminal proceedings; some have not been charged, however. Cites in various media: Featured in print, broadcast, and online media outlets, including: Vermont Public Radio, Miami Herald, National Public Radio, Huffington Post, The Sun News, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Wall Street Journal (Profile, News and Photos), FOX2, ABC Spotlight on the News, WWJ Radio, Ethics World, Aspen Philanthropy Newsletter, Harvard Business Review, Current Affairs, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, St. Petersburg Times, B, USA Today Topics, ,, Responsive Philanthropy Magazine, New York Times...and many more • Nonprofits: On the Brink (iUniverse, 2006)
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