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A homeless Philadelphia man and a New Jersey woman pleaded guilty in federal court on Wednesday to concocting a GoFundMe scam that raked in more than $400,000 from unsuspecting donors.
Johnny Bobbitt, Jr., 36, who was supposed to be the beneficiary of the donations, pleaded guilty in Camden, New Jersey, to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Kate McClure, 28, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud.
Bobbitt faces up to 10 years in prison and McClure faces up to 20 years.
In November 2017, McClure and her boyfriend, Mark D'Amico, created a GoFundMe account they said would help Bobbitt, who was homeless at the time, after he gave McClure his last $20 when she was stranded on a freeway in Philadelphia.
Prosecutors said McClure and D'Amico concocted the tale and that when the donations had reached about $1,500, they told Bobbitt about the campaign and false gas story. A month later, in December 2017, after setting up a bank account for Bobbitt, the pair deposited $25,000 from the scheme into his account.
About $400,000 was raised by 14,000 donors in less than three weeks, prosecutors said.
But what was portrayed as a heartwarming tale started to unravel as the three publicly feuded over the money.
Bobbitt filed a lawsuit, accusing the couple of withholding most of the GoFundMe money he was owed, which led authorities to investigate the case.
In November 2018, prosecutors released more than 60,000 messages between McClure and D'Amico from their iPhones detailing their financial woes, and how they allegedly got Bobbitt in on the ruse. The couple is accused of spending the money on a BMW, gambling and luxury goods and vacations to Florida and Las Vegas, among other things.
All three still face charges of second-degree theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft by deception in a case brought by Burlington County prosecutors.
In December, GoFundMe announced that it had given refunds to all donors who contributed to the campaign.
Bobbitt is currently being held at Burlington County Jail.