A New Jersey man who helped fabricate a complicated story about a homeless veteran who helps his run-down girlfriend raise thousands of GoFundMe donations was sentenced to five years in prison on Friday.
Mark D’Amico, of Florence, pleaded guilty to misappropriation of entrusted property in December 2019 and will serve five years in New Jersey State Penitentiary for his role in the fundraising program that raised more than $400,000 in donations.
D’Amico, 43, admitted to co-creating the story with then-girlfriend Katelyn McClure about how Johnny Bobbitt Jr., a homeless veterinarian, gave McClure his last $20 to fill up her gas tank after she fell on a Highway in Pennsylvania ran out of money in the middle of the night.
The couple shared the heartwarming account on GoFundMe to solicit donations for the ill-fated Bobbitt. The fundraiser garnered national attention when 14,000 people made donations on the GoFundMe page titled “Paying it forward” on the premise that the money would be used to provide Bobbitt with funds to rent an apartment, buy a reliable vehicle and to provide basic living expenses.
News of the touching encounter spread as D’Amico, McClure and Bobbitt gave interviews to local and national outlets, and the fundraiser’s goal of $10,000 was quickly surpassed to a total of $400,000 in about a month.
However, the anecdote was a hoax. The pair met Bobbitt about a month before he was reportedly helping out McClure with his last Jackson, and together they invented the feel-good story to make money.
“People really wanted to believe it was true,” Burlington County Prosecutor LaChia Bradshaw said in a statement Friday. “But it was all a lie and it was illegal. Our office is excited to bring justice to the more than 14,000 kindhearted people who thought they were helping someone living in desperate need.”
The trio savored the fruits of their fraud until Bobbitt sued D’Amico and McClure over claims they blew up the stockpile of luxury items, a recreational vehicle, a BMW and trips to casinos. Bobbitt claimed they only shared about $75,000 with him.
The lawsuit prompted authorities to investigate the fundraiser, and they eventually found that the couple had spent all of the money by March 2018.
In addition to the state charges, D’Amico also pleaded guilty to separate federal charges. He is currently in federal prison in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, serving a 27-month federal sentence.
His five-year state sentence is concurrent with his federal sentence — meaning once he completes the federal sentence, he will serve the remainder of his state sentence.
McClure and Bobbitt have pleaded guilty to both the state and federal charges.
McClure was sentenced to a year in prison in federal court last month and is awaiting sentencing at the state level – where she is expected to get more time.
Bobbitt, meanwhile, undergoes a state drug court program as part of his plea deal and awaits federal sentencing.
D’Amico and McClure were also asked to return the money.
With mail wires.
https://nypost.com/2022/08/07/new-jersey-man-mark-damico-involved-in-homeless-vet-gofundme-scam-gets-5-years/ New Jersey’s Mark D’Amico, who was involved in a homeless vet’s GoFundMe scam, gets 5 years