CINCINNATI - The firm representing the United States Navy Veterans Association will ask a judge Monday to sever its ties to the charity under fire.
An attorney with MacMurray, Petersen & Shuster, filed a motion to withdraw as legal counsel from the group that claimed to have 66,000 members but, the attorneys now confirm, its down to one member: founder Bobby Thompson.
The Navy Vets group registered as a charity in up to 41 states but has provided little record of actual service to veterans despite collecting up to tens of millions of dollars a year in donations much of this decade. Ohio’s Attorney General Richard Cordray suspects Thompson ran the operation by himself and used the money to make donations to mostly Republican candidates in Ohio and across the country.
Cordray says, "This appears to have been an elaborate, fraudulent organization trading outrageously on the names of our veterans."
The spigot to that funding may have shut dramatically, as the two telemarketing firms the US Navy Vets group used to raise funds have stopped doing business with the charity. Its website still operates so people still can contribute directly.
Cordray’s office has ordered the charity to stop operating in the state and is trying to sort the money trail. We found campaign finance records totaling $190,000 in personal checks Thompson wrote candidates as well as another $100,000 from a political action committee he formed.
Thompson hasn’t responded to interview requests and even his attorneys say they haven’t been able to reach him for three weeks. In the court papers, attorney Shaun K. Petersen says, “Defense Counsel’s repeated efforts to advise Defendant of significant recent legal matters have been regularly ignored.”
Petersen is partners with Helen MacMurray, formerly in charge of the consumer division of the same Attorney General’s office now shuttering her client. The I-Team e-mailed and visited MacMurray’s office and home, as her firm made clear she was the sole representative of U.S. Navy Vets. She e-mailed two weeks ago to answer our requests with a “no comment”, saying her client didn’t want to “try the case in the media.”
The hearing is set for Hamilton County Court of Common Please Monday at 1 p.m.
Thompson has disappeared, along with possibly millions of dollars.
Copyright (c) 2010 The E. W. Scripps Company