Authorities revealed today that they believe "Bobby Thompson," the man accused of using a fake veterans charity to swindle more than $100 million and to rub shoulders with top-level Republicans, is actually a former military intelligence officer named John Donald Cody.
Officials said Cody has been on an FBI watch list for 25 years after being accused of various frauds and was wanted for questioning related to an espionage investigation.
U.S. Marshal Peter Elliott told reporters that he discovered Cody while searching through old FBI Wanted posters. He said details about the two identities kept matching up, from his unusual hairstyle, his history in the state of Arizona, and his knowledge of the law. Cody, Elliot said, had graduated from Harvard Law School.
The Marshal said Cody spent years evading arrest before he assumed the Thompson persona.
"We always knew there was a reason Thompson signed his name as Mr. X and did not want to be identified," Elliott said. "Now we know why."
But former FBI profiler and ABC News consultant Brad Garrett said it still may not be that simple.
"Considering what we know about this guy, even the facts the Marshals believe they have about Cody could later turn out to be false," Garrett said.
The man known as Thompson was nabbed in Ohio in May. At the time, he was accused of being the mastermind behind the fake charity U.S. Navy Veterans Association that swindled more than $100 million from unsuspecting donors, as detailed in an ABC News investigation. Prosecutors charged Thompson with identity theft, fraud, and money laundering.
To help enhance the charity's credibility, Thompson allegedly used some of the money to make large campaign contributions to prominent politicians, most of them Republicans, including President George W. Bush, Sen. John McCain, and Ohio Rep. John Boehner, now Speaker of the House. He attended events with the political figures, and posed proudly for now infamous photos with them.
Thompson led authorities on a cross-country manhunt that a U.S. Marshal called the "one of our most challenging fugitive investigations to date."
But even after he was caught, the man proved to be a challenge for officials. When taken to court days after his arrest, the man then-known as Thompson dared prosecutors to discover his identity.
When a judge asked him if he had the educational background to represent himself in court, he refused to answer. "With all due respect to the court, the question you asked is an identity question," he said. "The state has alleged identity theft as part of their complaint. I believe, your honor, that the state has the burden of proof as to that."
It is a tale ripped from Hollywood. U.S. Marshals who finally caught him believe he modeled his life after the famous imposter from the blockbuster "Catch Me If You Can." A copy of the Leonardo DiCaprio movie was among the few personal possessions he kept at a Portland boarding house.