* By Jeff Testerman and John Martin, St. Petersburg Times *
Tampa, Florida – The story of Cmdr. Howard Bonifacio and the missing officers of the U.S. Navy Veterans Association has taken a new twist.
After a search for Bonifacio and other officials of the charity turned up nothing but “dirt and mesquite” last month, the New Mexico attorney general declared that the officers appeared to be fictional and ordered the Navy Veterans to cease all fundraising in that state.
That might have put the matter to rest, except the Navy Veterans chose to write the office of New Mexico Attorney General Gary King to explain the confusion about Bonifacio’s address.
Now the attorney general has opened a formal investigation. A spokesman said he could not divulge details until “something becomes public, such as an indictment or a lawsuit.”
On Navy Veterans tax returns, Bonifacio listed his home address at what turns out to be a vacant lot in Las Cruces, N.M.
A response explaining Bonifacio’s incorrect address was sent to the attorney general April 20 and signed by Patsy Mii, listed on tax documents as the Navy Veterans joint compliance committee chair. Mii is one of 84 Navy Veterans officers the St. Petersburg Times tried to but could not find during a six-month search.
Mii’s letter to New Mexico authorities said the Navy Veterans had convened a special inquiry at the group’s national headquarters in Washington and determined Bonifacio “did not intend to defraud anyone.”
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