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Homeless Man, NJ Woman Admit GoFundMe Scam

They pleaded guilty to federal charges
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 7, 2019 4:06 AM CST
In this Dec. 14, 2018 photo, Johnny Bobbitt stands during a hearing at Burlington County Courthouse in Mount Holly, NJ.   (David Swanson/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP, Pool, File)
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(Newser) – A homeless man and a New Jersey woman who scammed more than 14,000 kind-hearted people with a fake story on GoFundMe are facing time in federal prison. Johnny Bobbitt, Jr., 36, pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to commit money laundering and 28-year-old Kate McClure pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, NBC reports. Bobbitt, McClure, and Mark D'Amico, the ex-boyfriend who helped concoct the story, still face state charges of theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft. Prosecutors say McClure and D'Amico invented a story about Bobbitt, a homeless veteran with a drug problem, giving McClure his last $20 when she ran out of gas on a Philadelphia freeway.

"I wish that I could do more for this selfless man," wrote McClure, who received more than $400,000 in donations. The scheme fell apart after Bobbitt sued the couple, saying he hadn't received his fair share of the funds, and prosecutors began to suspect deception, the BBC reports. Prosecutors say D'Amico and McClure spent the money on a BMW, a trip to Las Vegas, and trips to casinos and Disney parks. Bobbitt, who argued that he only played a minor role in the scheme, could face up to 30 months in prison under a plea deal, though he will be sentenced in a drug court that allows people to be sentenced to rehab instead of prison, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. McClure faces a sentence of up to 33 months, which could have been 20 years without the plea deal. (GoFundMe has refunded all of the donations.)

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