A New Jersey man, Mark D’Amico pleaded guilty on Friday to a state charge for scamming GoFundMe donors out of more than $400,000. Prosecutors say D’Amico, his then-girlfriend Katelyn McClure and homeless veteran Johnny Bobbitt made up a story in 2017 about Bobbitt giving $20 to help McClure when her car ran out of gas in Philadelphia.
Mark D’Amico pleaded guilty in state Superior Court in Burlington County, New Jersey to misapplication of entrusted property.
Bobbitt and McClure pleaded guilty to federal and state crimes. The authorities have claimed that D’Amico was the leader and that he had made up the story.
Authorities said McClure and D’Amico made up a story about Bobbitt giving McClure his last $20 for gas when her car broke down in Philadelphia.
A GoFundMe campaign titled “Paying it Forward” raised more than $400,000 from 14,000 donors who wanted to help Bobbitt, but authorities have said most of the money was wasted by the couple.
D´Amico, Bobbit and McClure did newspaper and television interviews, posed for photos, revisited the spot where they claimed their first encounter happened.
When Bobbitt publicly accused the couple of taking his share of the money the plan began to fail. Then, authorities began investigating after Bobbitt sued the couple for allegedly not giving him the money.
According to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, the donations were transferred to the couple accounts. The money, according to what officials said, was spent on D’Amico’s gambling addiction, vacations, a BMW, clothes and similar expenditures.
After cluing Bobbitt in on the GoFundMe campaign, the couple deposited $25,000 into an account set up for him, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Bobbitt, who also pled guilty to his role in the scam, was sentenced to a drug court and five years of probation in the state Superior Court in Burlington County.
In May D´Amico was indictedon state charges including theft by deception and misapplication of entrusted property, according to the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office.
GoFundMe has already returned the money to all donors.