GoFundMe scam involving homeless veteran sends former South Jersey man to prison

·3 min read
An image of Johnny Bobbitt Jr., from left, Mark D'Amico and Katelyn McClure on display during a press conference Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018 in Mount Holly, N.J. The three are charged in a conspiracy to defraud GoFundMe contributors.
An image of Johnny Bobbitt Jr., from left, Mark D'Amico and Katelyn McClure on display during a press conference Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018 in Mount Holly, N.J. The three are charged in a conspiracy to defraud GoFundMe contributors.

MOUNT HOLLY - The criminal case against a former South Jersey man ended Friday when he was sentenced to five years in state prison for his role in a notorious crowdfunding scheme.

Mark D'Amcio's former girlfriend and a homeless Philadelphia man were also parties to the 2017 hoax that defrauded more than 14,000 donors and netted $402,000 meant to help down-and-out veteran, Johnny Bobbitt Jr.

All three defendants were charged and later pleaded guilty to various federal and state crimes in connection with the scam. Only two of six total sentencings for them remain — one for D’Amico’s former girlfriend, Katelyn McClure, 32, of Bordentown, and another for Bobbitt.

More: Attorney: GoFundMe scam started with good intentions and then ...

The three launched the scheme by posting a fictitious online story that Bobbitt had used his last $20 to buy gas for McClure when her car ran out of it on I-95 in Philadelphia. The original GoFundMe goal was $10,000, ostensibly to help Bobbitt with living expenses.

But, the feel-good nature of the story captured national attention and soon the crowdfunding campaigned swelled to a six-figure payday for the trio.D'Amico, 43, formerly of Florence, was not in Superior Court for Friday's sentencing because he already is serving a 27-month federal prison sentence in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. McClure is serving a shorter federal prison sentence.

Mark D'Amico is seen walking into New Jersey Superior Court in Mount Holly a few years ago when he pleaded guilty in connection with a viral GoFundMe campaign that scammed donors out of $400,000. He is now in federal prison because of the scam and was not in court Friday, Aug. 5,  2022, when he received another sentence in state court for the same hoax to raise money to assist a homeless veteran.
(Photo: Burlington County Times)
Mark D'Amico is seen walking into New Jersey Superior Court in Mount Holly a few years ago when he pleaded guilty in connection with a viral GoFundMe campaign that scammed donors out of $400,000. He is now in federal prison because of the scam and was not in court Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, when he received another sentence in state court for the same hoax to raise money to assist a homeless veteran. (Photo: Burlington County Times)

D’Amico and McClure both admitted to using some of the money on vacations, clothes and other personal items and expenses while D’Amico also gambled with some of the money at Atlantic City casinos.

Authorities have said McClure and D'Amico transferred money from the GoFundMe campaign into bank accounts they controlled; most of the money intended for Bobbitt was gone within a few months.

“People genuinely wanted to believe it was true,” said Burlington County prosecutor LaChia Bradshaw. “But it was all a lie and it was illegal. Our office is pleased to bring justice for the more than 14,000 kind-hearted people who thought they were helping someone who was living in a desperate situation.”

The state disagreed with D'Amico defense lawyer Mark G. Davis, who has claimed that while D'Amico eventually traveled “a road to hell" it initially was "paved with good intentions.”

The defendant pair reportedly didn't share much of the largesse with Bobbitt until he spoke with an attorney about only getting less than $100,000 of the money. Eventually, McClure and D'Amico shared about $50,000 in cash and goods with Bobbitt.

When the lawyer subsequently sued the couple in August 2018 in Mount Holly the scheme fell apart, leading to state and federal charges for all three. GoFundMe voluntarily returned all the money to the donors,

McClure, who lost her job as a state Department of Transportation clerk because of the crimes, also was to have her sentencing Friday in Mount Holly, but it was postponed until Sept. 9.  She pleaded guilty to theft by deception in April 2019, but her state court sentence was deferred until the federal case against her was resolved as was D'Amico's.

The Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office has recommended a four-year sentence for her crime and possible restitution by McClure when she is sentenced.

She is serving one year in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. She also was ordered to pay $400,000 in restitution to GoFundMe.

Likewise in federal court. D'Amico was ordered to pay $401,900 in restitution and assessed a $20,000 fine, according to U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Matthew Reilly.

The added five-year sentence will run concurrently with the federal sentence, according to the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office

Meanwhile, Bobbitt is scheduled for a federal court sentencing Aug. 23 following a guilty plea on a money laundering conspiracy charge. Bobbitt already was sentenced under the state’s Drug Court program to five years of probation for conspiring to commit theft and was ordered admitted to a long-term, in-patient treatment facility for drug addiction.

This article originally appeared on Cherry Hill Courier-Post: GoFundMe homeless man scam ends in prison for Mark D'Amico