Mastermind of Fake Navy Charity Gets 28-Year Sentence

December 16, 2013

A Harvard-trained attorney was sentenced by an Ohio judge today for masterminding a $100 million fake national Navy veterans charity, according to ABC News.

John Donald Cody, who went by the name ''Bobby Thompson,' was fined more than $6 million in addition to a 28-year prison sentence for overseeing a bogus charity called the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, which prosecutors said preyed on people's sympathy for American military veterans during wartime. 

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The Ohio Attorney General's Office, which handled the trial of 67-year-old Cody, had asked the judge for a sentence of 41 years in prison and a fine of $6.3 million for racketeering, theft, money laundering and 12 counts of identity theft that occurred in 41 states.

"[It is] difficult to try to measure the amount of harm your greed has caused,” said Judge Steven Gall. “All the worthy organizations that count on small donations from good citizens to help further their cause ... they are now struggling for money because people are afraid to give."

Sandra Miniutti, vice president and CFO of Charity Navigator, agrees.

"With so little oversight of the nonprofit sector, there is no telling how many scammers are out there," said Miniutti, whose organization evaluates charities. "Not only do these scams directly divert precious charitable dollars away from efficient, ethical and effective charities, but when these stories come to light, they also damage the reputation of the whole sector and cause some donors to stop giving altogether."

Charity Navigator encourages people to check its listings before donating to a nonprofit organization.

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