Accused ringleader faces more charges in good Samaritan ruse
CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — A man already charged in state court with scamming donors out of more than $400,000 with a fake feel-good story about a homeless veteran is facing federal charges.
The U.S attorney’s office charged Mark D’Amico on Thursday with wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. He was expected to appear in court Thursday.
The 40-year-old has already pleaded not guilty to fraud and money laundering charges in state court.
Prosecutors alleged that D’Amico, his then-girlfriend Katelyn McClure and homeless veteran Johnny Bobbitt made up a story in late 2017 about Bobbitt giving $20 to help McClure when her car ran out of gas in Philadelphia. The group solicited donations through GoFundMe, purportedly to help Bobbitt.
The trio did numerous newspaper and television interviews, posed for photos together, revisited the spot where they claimed their first encounter happened and went on “Good Morning America.” Authorities began investigating after Bobbitt sued the couple for allegedly not giving him the money.
In announcing criminal charges last November, Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said almost no part of the tale was true and that instead, the group met near a Philadelphia casino in October 2017 shortly before they told their story.
Bobbitt and McClure have both pleaded guilty to federal and state crimes. McClure faces four years in state prison and must help repay the $400,000. She must also testify against D’Amico. McClure’s federal sentencing currently is scheduled for November.
Bobbitt, a homeless military veteran, was sentenced in April to five years’ probation in state court and agreed to help repay the money. His federal sentencing is scheduled for later this month.
Authorities have alleged D’Amico was the ringleader and concocted the story. The federal criminal complaint released Thursday alleged all of the money raised in the GoFundMe campaign was spent by March 2018, with large chunks spent by McClure and D’Amico on an RV, a BMW and numerous trips to casinos in Las Vegas and New Jersey.