The defendant, who identifies himself as 67-year-old Bobby Thompson but has been identified by authorities as Harvard-trained attorney John Donald Cody, was prodded repeatedly by the judge on whether he would testify.
There is no requirement to testify, but the judge asked to hear from the defendant directly.
"Mr. Thompson," Judge Steven Gall said, raising his voice to repeat what he called "a simple question" on whether he would testify.
The judge ordered a recess to let the defendant make a decision and clean up his appearance. He had entered court with his shirt unbuttoned to the waist, his baggy pants bunched around his ankles and his hair disheveled.
"I would like to put myself in physical appearance I think is reasonable," the defendant said without specifying if he would testify as the defense has signaled.
The former fugitive is charged with looting the United States Navy Veterans Association charity that he ran in Tampa, Fla. The charges include racketeering, money laundering, theft and identity theft.
The defendant disappeared for almost two years after his 2010 indictment. He was arrested last year in Portland, Ore., where agents and deputy marshals found fake IDs and a suitcase containing $980,000 in cash.
The defendant showered politicians, often Republicans, with political donations. The judge rejected a defense request to subpoena testimony from leading Ohio Republicans including U.S. House Speaker John Boehner.
Politicians who received donations from him, according to campaign finance filings, include former President George W. Bush and former presidential contenders Mitt Romney, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, whose office handled the trial prosecution, said he believes that photos the defendant had taken with high-profile Republicans such as Bush, Boehner and GOP strategist Karl Rove were used to soften up potential donors.
Besides Boehner, political donations went to almost every member of the state's GOP congressional delegation and two of DeWine's predecessors as attorney general.
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