(CLEVELAND, Ohio) – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and U.S. Marshal Peter J. Elliott announced at a press conference in Cleveland today that long-time fugitive Bobby Thompson has been arrested in Portland, Oregon. A tip led investigators to his location, where he has been under surveillance for the past week. He surrendered when approached at his home in Portland last night.
"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," said Attorney General DeWine. "We believe he stole between $1.5 and $2 million, which came from generous people in our state who thought they were helping U.S. Navy veterans."
Thompson founded the charity United States Navy Veterans Association, believed to have collected nearly $2 million in Ohio money and tens of millions more from donors in 40 other states since 2001. Thompson's activity in Ohio started in 2005 and continued until 2010. Thompson was featured as one of "America's Most Wanted" fugitives.
Thompson faces a 22-count indictment in Cuyahoga County from 2010 for theft, money laundering, tampering with records, and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, among other charges. He has been on the run since the summer of 2010. His associate Blanca Contreras was sentenced to five years in prison on August 10, 2011.
"This was one of our most challenging fugitive investigations to date. Our investigators followed up leads all over the nation," said U.S. Marshal Peter J. Elliott. "Their diligence and dedication directly led to the arrest in Portland. I am proud of everyone that worked on this investigation. Their efforts have brought this scam artist to justice."
The Ohio Attorney General's Charitable Law Section and Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) have been involved in this case for years. BCI agents are en route to Portland to do further investigation into Thompson's activities there. Brad Tammaro of the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission will serve as special prosecutor in this case. As part of its investigation, the Ohio Attorney General's Office has been able to freeze some of the bank accounts used by Thompson and the U.S. Navy Veterans Association and direct the funds to real organizations providing meaningful services to veterans.
"We still don't know the true identity of the man known as Bobby Thompson, who has used the identity of several other people throughout the years," said DeWine. "But we commend the teamwork with our federal partners in this case. This case sends a strong message that we will not tolerate scam artists in Ohio."
Thompson is in federal custody of the U.S. Marshals Service awaiting an identity hearing.
Lisa Peterson-Hackley -- 614-466-3840
Eve Mueller -- 614-466-3840