MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. (CBS/AP) – Johnny Bobbitt, the homeless veteran who admitted to conspiring with a New Jersey couple in a GoFundMe scam that raised more than $400,000, received a multi-year drug treatment probation sentence for his role in the scam. Bobbitt pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft by deception.
Bobbitt must complete a special drug court probation for five years, and if he doesn’t complete it, he will have to go to prison. Bobbitt also said he will testify against Katelyn McClure and Mark D’Amico.
“He has taken responsibility for this and is willing to cooperate against his co-defendants,” said public defender John Keesler.
Prosecutors contend Bobbitt, McClure and McClure’s then-boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, made up a story in 2017 about Bobbitt giving $20 to help McClure when her car ran out of gas.
The trio gained widespread notoriety and more than 14,000 donors contributed through GoFundMe, ostensibly to help Bobbitt. But it was all a scam, Burlington County prosecutors said, intended to enrich the three co-conspirators.
“The gravity of this crime is that it rocks the very foundation of people’s confidence in charitable fundraising campaigns, particularly those on line,” said Assistant Burlington County Prosecutor Andrew McDonnell.
GoFundMe has said it refunded the donations.
Authorities began investigating last year after Bobbitt sued the couple for allegedly not giving him the money.
TIMELINE OF EVENTS
The couple claimed the cash would be donated to Bobbitt, but New Jersey authorities said the three split the money and spent lavishly, including on a BMW, designer bags, and trips to Las Vegas and elsewhere.
While Bobbitt offered no comments about his actions, Judge Christopher Garrenger told the struggling addict not to take this second chance for granted.
“This is an opportunity that you should take advantage of,” said Garrenger. “We want you to be a success in our drug court program, Mr. Bobbitt, and if there are things we can assist you in the journey, please let us know.”
In addition to his state plea, Bobbitt pleaded guilty last month to a federal money laundering conspiracy charge. McClure pleaded guilty to one federal count of wire fraud conspiracy. No sentencing date has been set for either person on those federal charges.
D’Amico doesn’t face any federal charges. He and McClure were charged last fall in state court with theft and conspiracy but have yet to be indicted by a grand jury.
D’Amico has denied wrongdoing.
CBS3’s Cleve Bryan contributed to this report.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)