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CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — Homeless veteran Johnny Bobbitt and Katelyn McClure pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court for their roles in a $400,000 GoFundMe scam. Katelyn McClure and her former boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, started the fundraising campaign in 2017 after claiming that Bobbitt gave McClure his last $20 to buy gas.
Bobbitt pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering, while McClure pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy. Bobbitt faces up to 10 years in prison, and McClure faces 20 years.
D’Amico has been charged with theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft by deception.
According to authorities, D’Amico and McClure had known Bobbitt for at least a month before launching the GoFundMe in November 2017, and had become acquainted with Bobbitt during their frequent trips to a local gambling casino.
The fundraising campaign raised nearly $403,000 through over 14,000 donors. GoFundMe said all donors would receive a full refund.
Officials say the investigation revealed that the couple spent the money raised through the GoFundMe on a BMW, a New Year’s trip to Las Vegas and high-end hand bags, among other items. The couple also allegedly withdrew over $85,000 in cash at casinos located in Atlantic City, Bensalem, Philadelphia and Las Vegas.
All the money had allegedly been spent within a few months of the campaign’s creation.
According to officials, Bobbitt took legal action against the couple when he learned that all the money had been squandered. He claims he received $75,000 of the funds, including an over $18,000 trailer purchased for him and parked at the couple’s Bordentown home.
During Wednesday’s court appearance, McClure admitted that she initially set up the money to try to help Bobbitt, but as the money came in and the hoax grew, she spent it as it came in. She also talked about how she and D’Amico informed Bobbitt that they had done this on his behalf and that he consented, and put $25,000 in a bank account for him.
McClure’s attorney, James Gerrow, says his client told D’Amico that the hoax needed to stop.
“Her motive was benign, in my view, and that was to help this gentleman and to get him off the streets, and it was a $10,000 goal, but as the money came in and the money went up, D’Amico was the one who took control and said, ‘We’re going to go, we’re going to go, we’re going to keep going.’ Katelyn, on at least two occasions, told D’Amico that they needed to stop because it was just out of control,” said Gerrow.
McClure’s sentencing is scheduled for June 19. Bobbitt’s sentencing will be scheduled at a later date.
State charges are still pending against Bobbitt, McClure and D’Amico.