He raised $400,000 for a homeless man but spent it on cars and trips
A New Jersey woman who pleaded guilty to helping her boyfriend spread an optimistic false story about an indigent war veteran who got over $400,000 in donations over the internet received a sentence of three years in prison on state robbery charges.
The prosecutors of Burlington County indicated that Katelyn McClureThe 32-year-old was not present in the Mount Holly courtroom because he is serving a one-year federal jail sentence related to the case. She will serve her sentence in state prison concurrently and the former Department of Transportation worker will not be allowed to hold public office in New Jersey again.
Prosecutors detailed that McClure and her then-boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, they came up with the good samaritan story in November 2017, alleging that Johnny Bobbitt Jr.., a helpless war veteran, he had given his last $20 to McClure when his car ran out of gas on an off ramp of an interstate highway in Philadelphia.
The three gave interviews in newspapers and television and they solicited donations, apparently to help Bobbittthrough a GoFundMe campaign they called “Paying It Forward,” according to prosecutors.
“The feeling is something indescribable,” Bobbitt wrote on the fundraising page during the peak of giving. “And it’s because of the support and generosity that each and every one of you has shown. I will continue to thank you daily for the rest of my life,” she expressed.
The prosecutors added that the campaign raised more than $400,000 from around 14,000 donors in about a month and at that moment it was biggest fraud perpetrated through that collective crowdfunding platform.
At the time, they even said the homeless man would donate a portion of his funds to a student helping another homeless veteran and to various local organizations that help the homeless. None of that happened.
Authorities opened an investigation after Bobbitt filed a lawsuit against the couple, accusing them of not giving him the money. Eventually the researchers determined that all the money was spent in March 2018, and McClure and D’Amico squandered huge amounts on an RV, a BMW car, and trips to casinos in Las Vegas and New Jersey..
D’Amico, 43, pleaded guilty in December 2019 and was sentenced to five years in state prison, a sentence that is also serving concurrently with a previous federal sentence. Both he and McClure are required to fully refund GoFundMe.
For his part, Bobbitt was sentenced to probation on federal and state charges.
(With information from AP)