The United States Marshals Service said it has uncovered fresh evidence suggesting the alleged charity scam mastermind who called himself Bobby Thompson may be hiding in New Mexico.
"We've developed some really good leads and we're on those leads," Pete Elliott, a spokesman for the agency, told ABC News. "I feel very confident we'll be able to apprehend him."
Elliott said the agency has a full time task force hunting for Thompson, who was charged in Ohio on counts of identity theft, fraud, and money laundering in connection to a bogus charity called the U.S. Navy Veterans Association that raised more than $100 million from unsuspecting donors around the country.
To help enhance the charity's credibility, the man who called himself Thompson -- it was not his real name -- 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 for now infamous photos with them.
In 2009, the St. Petersburg Times newspaper began raising questions about the veterans charity -- finding that none of the members of its board could be located, and its addresses seemed only to lead to post office boxes. Most of the money the charity had purported to raise was unaccounted for, and as authorities began following up on the reports, Thompson vanished. Last fall, Florida lawmaker Darryl Rouson told ABC News he had initially helped the man he thought was Bobby Thompson. "He seemed to be a knowledgeable man about politics and community affairs," Rouson said. "He was engaging, jovial. I had no reason to suspect he was anything other than who he said he was."
Thompson was last seen in the lobby of a New York City hotel as Ohio authorities had begun investigating the veterans' charity. Ohio officials said Thompson had stolen the identity of a real man named Bobby Thompson from Washington state. He also had an identity card from the state of Indiana issued under the name of a man from New Mexico named Ronnie Brittain, they added. The real Ronnie Brittain is the head of a veterans group in New Mexico.
Marshals based in Ohio took over the manhunt last year, and told ABC News they have uncovered information suggesting Thompson had lived in New Mexico. "Specifically, 'Thompson' has shown intimate knowledge about the Albuquerque area," they said. "He has utilized several other aliases including 'Ronnie Brittain' and 'Elmer Dosier.'"
The Marshals said Thompson is thought to be in his middle 50s to early 60s, stands 5'8" tall and weighs approximately 160 lbs. "He has shown an ability to alter his appearance by changing the style and color of his hair, wearing glasses, and changing the style and amount of facial hair," they said. "Thompson is believed to be a heavy drinker and has demonstrated a volatile temper on numerous occasions."
Anyone with information regarding the identity or whereabouts of this fugitive is encouraged to contact the U.S. Marshals Service at: 1-866-4-WANTED or text keyword WANTED and the tip to 847411(tip411). Tipsters may remain anonymous and a cash reward may be available.