A homeless man was sentenced to 5 years’ probation Friday after admitting final month that he conspired with a pair to rip-off the general public out of $400,000 in donations by concocting a feel-good story about him serving to a motorist in misery.
Johnny Bobbitt had pleaded responsible in state court docket to conspiracy to commit theft by deception. Situations of his sentence embody inpatient drug therapy and cooperation with prosecutors in opposition to his co-defendants. If he violates these circumstances, he might be sentenced to 5 years in jail with no risk of parole for not less than 18 months.
The story of Bobbitt, a homeless navy veteran, giving Katelyn McClure $20 when she ran out of gasoline on a freeway in Philadelphia “was designed to tug on the heartstrings of caring, trusting people,” Burlington County Assistant Prosecutor Andrew McDonnell stated in court docket, including that the three exhibited “deplorable behaviour.”
Bobbitt, clad in an orange jail jumpsuit, declined to make a press release in court docket.
WATCH: 2 suspects plead responsible in homeless GoFundMe scheme
Prosecutors contend Bobbitt, McClure and McClure’s then-boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, made up the story in 2017 and even faked photographs of themselves standing on the road on the scene of the purported trade. Blow-ups of the photographs have been displayed in court docket Friday.
The trio gained widespread recognition, and greater than 14,000 donors contributed by GoFundMe, ostensibly to assist Bobbitt. Nevertheless it was all a rip-off, Burlington County prosecutors stated, supposed to counterpoint the three co-conspirators.
GoFundMe has stated it refunded the donations.
Authorities started investigating final 12 months after Bobbitt sued the couple for allegedly not giving him the cash.
The couple claimed the money can be donated to Bobbitt, however New Jersey authorities stated the three break up the cash and spent lavishly, together with on a BMW, designer luggage and journeys to Las Vegas and elsewhere.
Greater than $85,000 in money was withdrawn at, or close to, casinos in Atlantic Metropolis, Las Vegas and in Pennsylvania, prosecutors have stated.
The fraud didn’t cease with the GoFundMe web page, in accordance with prosecutors. The trio did interview after interview, posed for photographs collectively, revisited the spot the place they claimed their first encounter occurred and went on Good Morning America. The Related Press prominently featured their story.
WATCH: All three accused of GoFundMe fraud have been arrested: police
Along with his state plea, Bobbitt pleaded responsible final month to a federal cash laundering conspiracy cost. McClure pleaded responsible to 1 federal depend of wire fraud conspiracy. No sentencing date has been set for both particular person on these federal costs.
D’Amico doesn’t face any federal costs. He and McClure have been charged final fall in state court docket with theft and conspiracy however have but to be indicted by a grand jury.
D’Amico has denied wrongdoing.