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The homeless Philadelphia man accused of being a willing player in a GoFundMe fraud that raked in more than $400,000 was ordered freed by a New Jersey judge on Friday on bail pending trial.
Johnny Bobbitt Jr., 35, who was extradited to Burlington County, New Jersey, last week, must submit to weekly monitoring and attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings upon his release, a superior court judge ruled. Bobbitt can also return to Philadelphia but must show proof that he will have someplace to live.
In addition, he cannot have contact with co-defendants Kate McClure, 28, and Mark D'Amico, 39. The trio face charges of second-degree theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft by deception as part of the scam. If found guilty, they could serve up to five to 10 years in prison.
A public defender for Bobbitt could not immediately be reached for comment. He previously said Bobbitt intended to apply for a drug court program tailored to nonviolent first-time offenders who want to avoid criminal prosecution but must still admit to some guilt. It's unclear whether he will be granted approval.
The alleged online scam from late 2017 tugged at donors' heartstrings by claiming Bobbitt gave McClure his last $20 when she was stranded along a freeway ramp in Philadelphia. McClure and her boyfriend, D'Amico, started the GoFundMe account to supposedly help Bobbitt, but after the story went viral, they began publicly squabbling with him when Bobbitt said he was never given all of the money.
However, the tale took another unexpected turn when Burlington County prosecutors last month laid out how the three allegedly concocted the story from the start, and released more than 60,000 messages between McClure and D'Amico from their iPhones detailing their financial woes, including bills and debts, and how they got Bobbitt in on the ruse. The couple is accused of spending the money on a BMW, luxury trips and other items.
McClure's attorney has since said she "had only the best intentions" and was being used by D'Amico and Bobbitt, while an attorney for D'Amico questioned "how Kate is playing the victim now."
Bobbitt, a homeless Marine veteran, has been open about overcoming his drug addiction, and had told The Philadelphia Inquirer earlier this year that he used some of the GoFundMe donations to buy heroin and opioids.