NJ man gets 5-year prison term for role in GoFundMe scam involving homeless veteran

A New Jersey man who helped devise a fraudulent GoFundMe scheme that raised more than $402,000 with a false, feel-good story about a homeless veteran was sentenced to five years in state prison on Friday.

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Mark D’Amico, 43, of Florence, also was ordered to make full restitution to GoFundMe, according to a news release from the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office.

D’Amico was sentenced in April to 27 months in federal prison. His state and federal sentences are running concurrently, Burlington County Prosecutor LaChia L. Bradshaw said in a statement.

The story, concocted by D’Amico, his former girlfriend Katelyn McClure and homeless Marine veteran Johnny Bobbitt Jr., was a feel-good story in 2017 about Bobbitt giving his last $20 to help McClure when her car ran out of gas on Interstate 95 on a cold night n Philadelphia, WTXF-TV reported.

The couple posted a photo of McClure and Bobbitt in front of the Girard Avenue exit with the title “Paying It Forward.”

“People genuinely wanted to believe it was true,” Bradshaw said in a statement. “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.”

At the time, the campaign was the largest fraud that had been perpetrated through GoFundMe, according to WCAU-TV.

Authorities began investigating after Bobbitt sued D’Amico and McClure, accusing them of not giving him the money raised in the GoFundMe campaign, WTXF reported. Prosecutors eventually determined that all of the money was spent by March 2018. According to the television station, large amounts of money was spent by McClure and D’Amico on a recreational vehicle, a BMW and trips to casinos in Las Vegas and New Jersey.

D’Amico’s state prison term was ordered after a plea agreement, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. D’Amico pleaded guilty in 2019 to second-degree misapplication of entrusted property.

In November 2021, D’Amico pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud conspiracy, the Inquirer reported. McClure and Bobbitt pleaded guilty in 2019 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, respectively, in connection with the same scheme, according to the newspaper.

McClure, 32, of Bordentown, was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison for her role in the scam, according to the Inquirer. McClure, who pleaded guilty in Superior Court in 2019 to second-degree theft by deception in her state criminal case, will be formally sentenced on Sept. 9, according to the newspaper.

Bobbitt, of Philadelphia, was sentenced to five years of probation on state charges in 2019, according to The Associated Press. He was admitted into an addiction-recovery program as an alternative to a state prison term, according to the Inquirer. He will be sentenced in federal court later this month, the newspaper reported.