On Monday, the second of three people involved in the Johnny Bobbitt GoFundMe scam pleaded guilty to perpetrating a viral hoax that ended up duping around 14,000 generous people out of a total of over $400,000.
On Friday, the homeless veteran at the center of the scam pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit theft by deception, which brought a five-year probation requiring him to enter a state drug program and meet various requirements or else face five years in prison. On Monday, the woman involved in the scam pleaded guilty to theft by deception and was slapped with four years behind bars. The third person, who the other two say is the true mastermind behind the hoax, is still waiting for a grand jury to determine his charges next month, NPR reports.
In New Jersey Superior Court on Monday, Katelyn McClure, 29, pleaded guilty to one count of theft by deception in the second degree, the Burlington County Prosecutor’s office revealed in a press release Monday. “Under the terms of an agreement with the Prosecutor’s Office, Katelyn McClure of Bordentown, 29, will serve a four-year term in New Jersey state prison in exchange for pleading guilty to Theft by Deception (Second Degree),” the statement reads.
“McClure was charged late last year, along with co-defendants Johnny Bobbitt Jr., 36, of Philadelphia, and Mark D’Amico, 39, of Florence, with concocting a feel-good story that compelled more than 14,000 people to contribute money believing it would go to help Bobbitt, who was homeless and living on the streets of Philadelphia,” the office explains.
The trio created a GoFundMe campaign on November 10, 2017 that quickly went viral, playing on sympathies for veterans and the homeless. D’Amico, who was dating McClure at the time, took a photo of McClure and Bobbitt and posted a “fairy tale narrative” about McClure supposedly running out of gas on the side of the road and Bobbitt selflessly giving her his last $20 to help her get home.
“The campaign listed a goal of $10,000 to provide Bobbitt with rent for an apartment, a reliable vehicle, and six months of living expenses, among other things,” prosecutors say. “But the incoming funds far exceeded their target, and were quickly spent by McClure and D’Amico on gambling and personal items such as a BMW, a New Year’s trip to Las Vegas, a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon and Louis Vuitton hand bags.”
The hoax began to unravel within months when Bobbitt sued D’Amico and McClure for failing to give him the full amount of the money they’d raised. It was soon revealed that the hundreds of thousands of dollars had all been spent, only about $75,000 of it having actually gone to Bobbitt, his lawyers said.
After pleading guilty last month to conspiracy to commit theft by deception in the second degree, Bobbitt has been sentenced to the court’s drug treatment program which allows him to avoid incarceration if he adheres to its “tightly-structured regimen of treatment and recovery services, which includes frequent testing for drug use,” the prosecutor’s office explains. Failure to do so could result in a five-year prison sentence.
McClure and Bobbitt’s plea agreement require them to make restitution in the amount of $402,766. It also requires that they both testify against D’Amico, who faces two charges: theft by deception in the second degree and conspiracy to commit theft by deception in the second degree.