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CINCINNATI - Federal agents are in the process of raiding a storage unit in Portland, Oregon, looking for evidence about a fake charity that took in $100 million, in a story the I-Team first investigated almost two years ago.
On Tuesday, agents arrested the man who ran the operation after a national manhunt that landed him on the America's Most Wanted list.
FBI agents and U.S. Marshals are looking for evidence in a unit rented by a man who called himself Bobby Thompson, an alias he assumed to establish and run the United States Navy Veterans Association. Donors in Ohio and across the country thought they were helping veterans but little if any of the money went to the stated cause.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that more than $981, 650 was found in a suitcase during Wednesday's search. Another suitcase filled with multiple fake IDs and birth certificates was also recovered.
"We knew he stole a tremendous amount of money from people he scammed across the country, but it was surprising to find the amount we did today," said DeWine. "This is certainly more than we expected to recover and will eventually help with victim restitution."
The agents also are searching a room "Thompson" rented inside a Portland house, according to Pete Elliott, the chief of the task force based in Cleveland who was in charge of the manhunt.
"Thompson" had not lived in Portland long. Agents had almost caught up with him in Boston a month ago. He rented the room and storage unit using a different alias, and agents found him with other fake identification cards and cash in a backpack. They are continuing to investigate to determine his true identity.
He 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, as well as other charges. His partner, Blanca Contreras was sentenced to five years in prison last August.
The I-Team and WCPO.com will continue to provide the latest details on this story as they develop.
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38-time Emmy winner Brendan Keefe was named Best Reporter by the Ohio Associated Press in 2011, and Best Photographer in 2012 and 2013. He serves as Anchor and Chief Investigator for 9 On Your Side.
Jason Law joined 9 On Your Side in January 2013 as a investigative reporter with the I-Team.