Cleveland | ‘Mr. X’ convicted of running $100 million charity scam
Mr. X, who turned out to be Harvard-trained lawyer John Donald Cody, 67, was not too active in the courtroom last month. Cody refused to testify in his defense and spent much of his time banging his head against the wall of his holding cell.
Cody’s attorney claims he was afraid to face cross-examination.
On Nov. 14, Cody was convicted in Cleveland of money laundering, racketeering, theft and identity theft. Through his fraudulent charity, the now-defunct United States Navy Veterans Association, Cody swindled thousands of donors out of $100 million. Some of this money went to telemarketers and members of the GOP, but most of it landed in Cody’s pockets.
After two years on the run from the FBI, U.S. marshals from northern Ohio tracked down Cody in Portland, OR. He was living modestly in a boarding house. Nearby, authorities discovered more than $980,000 hidden in a self-storage unit.
U.S. Marshal Pete Elliot has described Cody as “probably the smartest guy we caught.”
When Cody is sentenced later this month, he will likely be put behind bars for life.
In the aftermath of this scandal, some Americans have questioned just how many other fraudulent charities are out there. As the IRS’ Exempt Organizations Division is extremely understaffed, it’s difficult for the group to adequately audit the 1.5 million American nonprofit organizations, 59,000 of which have “veteran” in their names.
If you want to check out the validity of a charity, Givewell is an excellent resource.
Pittsburgh | Man found guilty of murder and armored truck heist
Wanted for murder, 23-year-old Ken Konias spent March and April 2012 cavorting with pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers and unscrupulous cab drivers in Pompano Beach, FL. This motley crew of underworld deviants eventually would lead Pittsburgh authorities to Konias–and $1 million inside a Public Storage facility.
According to Pompano Beach resident Shewona Flowers, Konias came into town with only the clothes on his back. One of her relatives, a Pompano Beach pimp named John Flowers, let Konias rent a room in his house. What the Flowers didn’t know was that Konias was a killer on the run from the Pittsburgh Police Department.
In February 2012, Konias was back in Pittsburgh working as an armored truck guard. After a routine pickup at Rivers Casino, Konias shot 31-year-old co-worker Michael Haines execution-style, then abandoned the armored truck under the 31st Street Bridge.
Konias made off with $2.3 million in cash. He left $25,000 at his grandmother’s grave, $200,000 under his father’s Cadillac and $10,000 inside a friend’s work boot before driving to South Florida.
After arriving in Florida, Konias befriended Roger Beauchamp, a cab driver who later would serve as Konias’ personal chauffeur. In exchange for $800,000, Beauchcamp allegedly helped Konias destroy his Ford Explorer and bulletproof vest. According to Konias’ testimony, Beauchamp provided him with fake IDs and was planning to help him flee to Haiti or Jamaica.
Konias was on the lam for two months before he slipped up. According to Pittsburgh’s KDKA-TV, Konias confided in a prostitute named Summer while they smoked crack cocaine together. When Summer learned about the murder and robbery, she told her pimp, who immediately called the Pittsburgh Police Department to redeem a $100,000 reward. Konias was arrested at the Flowers’ residence three hours later.
Thus far, authorities have recovered more than $1.1 million of the $2.3 million. It is thought that Summer stole $92,000; she remains at large.
During his six-day, non-jury trial, FBI agents and prostitutes testified.
The defense contended that Konias acted in self-defense, but the judge didn’t buy it.
The prosecution described the macabre murder of Haines as “cold-blooded.” They described Konias as unremorseful, citing the fact that he got jailhouse tattoos of bags of cash and dollar signs while awaiting trial.
On Nov. 19, Konias was convicted of robbery, theft and first-degree murder. During his Feb. 18 sentencing, he is set to get life in prison without parole.
Aurora, CO | Police bust sophisticated theft ring, find 600 stolen items in storage
Authorities have linked Alexis Triplett, 24, Erin Smith, 20, and one juvenile to nearly 60 crimes in the Denver metro area since September. Although these three people are currently in custody, police are looking for more suspects.
After Smith was arrested in Aurora for driving a stolen vehicle, authorities were led to DTC Self Storage in Centennial, where they discovered more than 600 stolen items in a storage unit.
Speaking with Denver’s KUSA-TV, self-storage manager Sean Garrison said Triplett “was the ring leader. She controlled all of the boys.”
The thieves allegedly stole the items from cars, homes and delivered packages.
If you live in the Denver area and recently have been burglarized, check this list of stolen goods to see whether authorities have your items. If you spot your belongings there, contact your local police department, receive a claim number, then email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Images courtesy of The Associated Press, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Aurora Police Department