Homeless ‘Good Samaritan’ Gets Probation in GoFundMe Scam

Homeless ‘Good Samaritan’ Gets Probation in GoFundMe Scam
This November 2018 file combination of photos shows Johnny Bobbitt, left, Katelyn McClure and Mark D'Amico.(Burlington County Prosecutors Office via AP, File)

MOUNT HOLLY, N.J.—The homeless veteran who admitted to conspiring with a New Jersey couple in a GoFundMe scam that raised more than $400,000 was sentenced on April 12 to five years’ probation.

Johnny Bobbitt pleaded guilty last month in state court to conspiracy to commit theft by deception. Conditions of his sentence include inpatient drug treatment and cooperation with prosecutors against his co-defendants. If he violates those conditions, he will be sentenced to five years in prison with no possibility of parole for at least 18 months.

Bobbitt made no statement in court.

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Johnny Bobbitt, center, is led away from his attorneys, John Keesler, second from right, and Stephen P. Hunter, following his sentencing hearing at Burlington County Superior Court in Mount Holly, N.J. on April 12, 2019. (Tim Tai/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP, Pool)

Prosecutors contend Bobbitt, Katelyn McClure, and McClure’s then-boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, made up a story in 2017 about Bobbitt giving $20 to help McClure when her car ran out of gas in Philadelphia.

The trio gained widespread recognition, and more than 14,000 donors contributed through GoFundMe, ostensibly to help Bobbitt. But it was all a scam, Burlington County prosecutors said, intended to enrich the three co-conspirators.

GoFundMe has said it refunded the donations.

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Johnny Bobbitt, left, looks on as his attorney John Keesler and Assistant Prosecutor Andrew McDonnell, right, talk while appearing before Superior Court Judge Christopher Garrenger at the Burlington County Courthouse in Mount Holly on March 8, 2019. (Elizabeth Robertson/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

Authorities began investigating last year after Bobbitt sued the couple for allegedly not giving him the money almost a year after the story. Bobbitt claimed that while the couple lived a lavish lifestyle with the latest phones and top-brand bags and sunglasses, he lived in a trailer on their driveway.

However, the ensuing police investigation uncovered far more than Bobbitt had intended, exposing how all three them had fabricated the story.

The couple claimed the cash would be donated to Bobbitt, but New Jersey authorities said the three split the money and spent lavishly, including on a BMW, designer bags, and trips to Las Vegas and elsewhere.

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Johnny Bobbitt, whose story of helping stranded motorist Kate McClure went viral, on Aug. 15, 2018. (David Swanson /The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

In addition to his state plea, Bobbitt pleaded guilty last month to a federal money laundering conspiracy charge. McClure pleaded guilty to one federal count of wire fraud conspiracy. No sentencing date has been set for either person on those federal charges.

Bobbitt on earlier occasions told the court he helped concoct the story and opened a bank account in December 2017 to deposit $25,000 of the donations, according to the Inquirer.  D’Amico helped him open the account, he said, and McClure deposited the money.

To encourage more donations, he allowed a photograph of himself with the couple to be posted online.

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(L-R): Johnny Bobbitt, Kate McClure’s boyfriend Mark D’Amico, and Kate McClure pose at a Citgo station in Philadelphia. (Elizabeth Robertson/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

He appeared in various media interviews, repeating the story.

D’Amico doesn’t face any federal charges. He and McClure were charged last fall in state court with theft and conspiracy but have yet to be indicted by a grand jury.

D’Amico has denied wrongdoing.

Epoch Times reporter Simon Veazey contributed to this report. 

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