The prosecutor for Burlington County, Scott Coffina, announced in November that the GoFundMe campaign for a homeless veteran by a local couple was based on a lie. The couple, identified as Mark D’Amico and Kate McClure, made up a story in connection with veteran Johnny Bobbitt, Jr. to help raise money for him using GoFundMe. The lie wound up generating more than $400,000 in donations from complete strangers. According to Coffina, all three conspirators face charges of conspiracy to commit theft by deception and second degree theft by deception.
According to the couple, McClure met Bobbitt when she was stranded on I-95 in Philadelphia without gas. Bobbitt gave his final $20 to McClure so she could get gas. As a way to repay him, McClure and D’Amico decided to start a GoFundMe campaign that immediately went viral. After fees, a total of $367,000 was deposited into McClure’s account. Bobbitt received just $75,000 in the deal with the couple, who squandered the rest of the remaining money on trips, high-end purchases, cars and more. Bobbitt even made multiple media appearances to tell the tale of McClure giving him her last $20 in order to perpetuate the lie to the public.
The True Story
The true story, according to Coffina, is that the couple knew Bobbitt for at least a month prior to perpetuating the lie. The couple met Bobbitt at an off-ramp near a casino in the area they frequent. The night the story came to light the couple met Bobbitt at the off-ramp and McClure stood next to the veteran as D’Amico took a picture of the two. They then created a GoFundMe campaign just hours later using the staged picture for the campaign.
The couple and Bobbitt were nabbed when investigators reviewed more than 67,000 text messages. One of the messages sent by McClure to a friend confirmed that the $20 comment was a lie because she needed something that would make people feel bad. She did confirm to the friend that Bobbitt is a veteran. Investigators also discovered a similar story Bobbitt posted on his Facebook account back in 2012. The similar story involved Bobbitt giving the last of his money to a woman stranded at a Walmart in North Carolina. Coffina did not think the story was a coincidence in the least bit.
GoFundMe announced not long after the charges were handed down that it would refund all of the money donated to the campaign, which totaled more than 14,000 people. As of the end of December, all of the 14,000 people who donated to the campaign had been issued a full refund.
D’Amico and McClure turned themselves into police in the middle of November and were released after a court date was set. Bobbitt was taken into custody in Philadelphia and had to be extradited to New Jersey. Second-degree crimes in New Jersey come with a possible sentence of no more than 10 years in prison.
Contact an Experienced Moorestown Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Theft Charges in New Jersey
Were you arrested or charged with theft in New Jersey? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. The attorneys at The Law Office of Stephen R. Piper, LLC have successfully represented clients charged with theft in Evesham Township, Mount Laurel, and Delran, NJ. Call 856-333-3586 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team.
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