CLEVELAND -- Late Monday night, U.S. Marshals captured one of America's Most Wanted and elusive fugitives who is accused of stealing millions of dollars that had been donated for the sole purpose of aiding U.S. veterans.
"Bobby Thompson," which was an alias, was on the run for over the last two years where he assumed numerous fictitious names and was known to alter his appearance.
He was charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, identity theft, fraud, and money laundering. He was indicted in Cuyahoga County.
In the early 2000s, the man, using the alias "Bobby Thompson," founded the U.S. Navy Veterans Association (USNVA), a charitable organization whose stated mission was to provide assistance to veterans and members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
The USNVA claimed to have a national headquarters in Washington D.C., but its base of operations was the Tampa, FL, area.
From its inception to the summer of 2010, it is estimated the USNVA received close to $100 million in nationwide donations.
Officials in several states are investigating the USNVA and it is believed little, if any, of the money actually benefitted veterans or current service members.
In August 2010, "Thompson" was charged in Cuyahoga County, Ohio with various offenses relating to this fraudulent activity.
A co-conspirator is currently serving a five-year prison sentence in Ohio for her role in this scam after pleading guilty in June 2011.
"Thompson," the alleged mastermind of this plot, fled in June 2010, when he learned of the criminal investigation.
"Thompson" was featured on America's Most Wanted on two separate occasions, with the most recent being March 2011.
In November 2011, the United States Marshals in the Northern District of Ohio were called on to spearhead the apprehension of "Thompson" who was indicted out of Cuyahoga County.
In November 2011, United States Marshal Pete Elliott, for the Northern District of Ohio, was contacted by former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray and asked for his assistance in locating "Thompson."
Elliott immediately formed a task force in Cleveland that has diligently pursued "Thompson" for over the last six months.
Numerous leads were followed up while Ohio investigators tracked "Thompson" through several states to include Massachusetts, Arizona, New Mexico Rhode Island, West Virginia, Indiana, Florida and Washington.
"Thompson's" fictitious and fraudulent life on the run came to an abrupt end last night in Portland, Oregon.
After conducting an intense and thorough investigation, a team of Deputy U.S. Marshals and Task Force Officers from the Northern District of Ohio traveled to Portland, Oregon and coordinated efforts with the U.S. Marshals in the District of Oregon.
At approximately 10:30 pm (PST), the team caught "Thompson" outside a residence on 72nd St., NE in Portland where he has been living under one of his new fictitious names.
Upon arrest, "Thompson" refused to make any statements.
He appeared to be in poor physical condition and was walking with a cane. He was in possession of several false identification cards from Canada, along with a backpack containing an undisclosed amount of cash.
All of his possessions were taken as evidence and search warrants are being obtained for his residence.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is traveling to Portland to conduct further investigation.
Investigators are still unsure of the true identity of "Thompson" and will be working on that, as well as identifying his ongoing criminal activity.
"Thompson" was transported to the Multnomah County Jail where he will await extradition to Northern Ohio. U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott stated, "This was one of our most challenging fugitive investigations to date. Our investigators followed up leads all over the nation. Their diligence and dedication directly led to the arrest in Portland. I am proud of everyone that worked on this investigation and their efforts have brought this scam artist to justice."
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine stated, "We are relieved Bobby Thompson is now in federal custody after a nationwide manhunt and years of work within the Attorney General's Office to track him down.
We believe he stole between $1.5 million and $2 million which came from generous people in our state who thought they were helping U.S. Navy veterans."
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.