A homeless man at the center of a fundraiser by a New Jersey couple was reportedly part of the scam the couple created to raise nearly hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Mark D’Amico and Kate McClure launched a GoFundMe campaign to purportedly help Johnny Bobbitt last year but controversy over the more than $400,000 raised led to the couple – and the homeless man – being charged with conspiracy and theft by deception, NBC10 reported.
The three allegedly worked together to create the scheme that saw more than 14,000 people donate. McClure, 28, and D’Amico, 39, turned themselves in to Burlington County prosecutors on Wednesday though Bobbitt was still at large, NBC10 reported.
Investigators said the three worked to keep donors to the GoFundMe campaign from getting information “that would affect their judgment about solicited contribution to that fundraising effort.”
The story behind the campaign gained national attention last year as the couple shared how Bobbitt, a homeless drug addict, spent his last $20 filling up McClure’s empty gas tank when her car broke down on a highway near Philadelphia. The fundraiser launched by McClure and D’Amico was allegedly a way to give back to Bobbitt, raising thousands of dollars and leading to multiple television appearances.
The North Carolina man had reportedly been living under a bridge after being homeless for over a year and having been allegedly robbed at a shelter, the New York Post reported last year.
“He came back from his service in the Marines and for some reason it didn’t work out with his wife and it hit him hard,” D’Amico said. “He left North Carolina and started traveling around the United States.”
Bobbitt, described by the New York Post last year as “a Marine Corps vet from North Carolina who also worked as a firefighter and paramedic before he fell on hard times,” had plans on how to use the funds, according to the GoFundMe page.
A new home and his “dream truck” were listed as well as other financial planning:
There will also be 2 trusts set up in his name, one essentially giving him the ability to collect a small “salary” each year and another retirement trust which will be wisely invested by a financial planner which he will have access to in a time frame he feels comfortable with so when the time comes he can live his retirement dream of owning a piece of land and a cabin in the country. A bank account will be set up for him with funds for every day needs that will get him through until he finds a job.
“This is a well thought out plan that Johnny his lawyer and financial advisor came up with in order to give Johnny the means to acclimate back into a “normal” life and also to protect him and ensure he has a bright future,” McClure wrote.
But the feel-good story eventually went sour as Bobbitt sued the couple for dipping into the funds and withholding money from him. McClure and D’Amico fired back at Bobbitt, accusing him of being on drugs and refusing to pay him until he was clean. The couple alleged that Bobbitt spent $25,000 in less than two weeks on drugs.
Bobbitt’s attorney claimed his client had only received about $75,000 of the donated funds though the couple’s lawyer said he had gotten about $200,000.
According to NBC10:
The couple also bought Bobbitt a camper with some of the cash and parked it on land McClure’s family owns in New Jersey. But Bobbitt became homeless again after D’Amico told him in June that he had to leave the property.
In September, police raided the couple’s home in Florence, New Jersey, hauling away a new BMW on a flatbed truck. Badway said that all the couple’s personal and business financial statements, along with jewelry and cash, were seized in the raid.
And while the couple was then under investigation, no charges had been filed at the time and it was not known then that Bobbitt had been part of the plot.
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