ABC News Investigations of the Year: Catching Bobby Thompson

PHOTO: John Donald Cody used the alias Bobby Thomson while running a multi-million-dollar veterans charity from Tampa, Fla.PlayOhio Attorney General | USMS
WATCH 'Mr. X' Defied Prosecutors

This week, the Blotter is reprising five different Brian Ross Unit investigations that made a difference in 2012. Today: The Ross Unit helps authorities nab an alleged con man accused of pocketing up to $100 million in donations to a charity.

The mustachioed man oversaw what was purported to be one of the country's largest military charities, raising more than $100 million from donors who believed they were giving to support Navy veterans, and he used his post as the leader of the U.S. Navy Veteran's Association to rub elbows with the nation's top political leaders, including President George W. Bush, Sen. John McCain, and future House Speaker John Boehner.

But as a continuing ABC News investigation that began in 2010 eventually showed, the charity was a fake and Thompson was an imposter. In May 2012, Thompson was finally captured by U.S. Marshals in Portland, Oregon after crisscrossing the country under assumed names. He had shaved the mustache, and stashed $1 million in cash in a storage locker. And even after he was placed in shackles and returned to Ohio for trial, Thompson refused to tell anyone his real name. He signed court papers "Mr. X."

"He's not giving up anything," said U.S. Marshal Peter Elliott at the time. "Nothing. Nada." READ the original ABC News report .

WATCH the original ABC News report.

It was 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.

In May, Elliott began a second intensive investigation -- this time to unmask Thompson's true identity.

Impact: Following a series of ABC News reports, Elliott announced that he had solved the mystery รข?" Thompson was actually a former military intelligence officer named John Donald Cody. Elliott said he found Thompson's identity 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. Cody had been on the run after being accused of various frauds and had been wanted for questioning related to an espionage investigation.

"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."

The man who called himself Bobby Thompson is currently awaiting trial.

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