April 19, 2019

Homeless 'good Samaritan' gets probation in gas money scam

14 April 2019, 11:30 | Devin Moran

Homeless veteran who lied in viral $400K GoFundMe scam learns sentence today in N.J. court

Johnny Bobbitt stands in the courtroom during his sentencing hearing at Burlington County Superior Court in Mount Holly N.J. Friday

In addition to his state plea, Bobbitt pleaded guilty last month to a federal money laundering conspiracy charge.

Bobbitt's in-patient drug program, a condition of his drug court sentencing, is expected to last between three and nine months.

In November 2017, Bobbitt along with New Jersey couple Kate McClure and Mark D'Amico, created a GoFundMe account claiming to help Bobbitt, who was homeless at the time, after he gave them his last $20 when their vehicle ran out of gas on a Philadelphia freeway. More than 14,000 donated to help Bobbitt, who was homeless at the time, and raised almost $403,000 to help him. "D'Amico and McClure allegedly conspired to create the false story to obtain money from donors".

Bobbitt, donning an orange jumpsuit, declined to comment in court on the matter when asked by the judge, telling him, "No, sir".

Prosecutors contend a GoFundMe campaign ostensibly set up to help Bobbitt was a lie meant to enrich all three.

McClure and D'Amico said they wanted to raise $10,000 to get Bobbitt off the street, but generous donors fueled by the story and holiday spirit sent just over $400,000 their way.

McClure and her boyfriend, Mark D'Amico, posted about the "good deed" on social media, including a picture of her with Bobbitt on a highway ramp.

Bobbitt along the couple, Kate McClure and Mark D'Amico, who have since broken up, were charged with concocting a story to scam kindhearted strangers out of money with a sensational story of helping homeless Bobbitt start a new life.

About 14,000 people donated nearly $403,000 to the GoFundMe page, falling for the story. The couple allegedly spent the funds on a luxury vehicle, gambling and vacations, among other things, prosecutors said.

McClure has pleaded guilty to one federal count of conspiracy to commit fraud.

GoFundMe has said it refunded the donations.

A sentencing date has not yet been set for either Bobbitt or McClure on those federal charges.

McClure and D'Amico have been charged in Burlington County as well, and their cases ongoing. He, along with McClure and D'Amico, were accused of burning through the money in just months.

Coffina said in Friday's statement that "there is no denying that Johnny Bobbitt has struggled with addiction, and that his addiction was a factor in his criminal conduct", and that the sentence of probation and treatment - with the certainty of jail time if he doesn't comply - is appropriate. Any infractions could bring him a five-year prison sentence, according to Burlington County Prosecutor spokesman Joel Bewley.

"The entire campaign was predicated on a lie", Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said at the time when he announced the charges.

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