Dec. 7 (UPI) — A New Jersey man pleaded guilty for being the mastermind behind a crowd-funding scheme that netted more than $400,000.
Mark D’Amico pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree misapplication of entrusted property Friday.
Prosecutors said D’Amico and Katelyn McClure used GoFundMe to raise money for Johnny Bobbitt Jr., a homeless man they said used his last $20 to help them when they’re vehicle ran out of gas in Philadelphia in 2018. McClure posted about the story online and it went viral, with thousands of people donating to the GoFundMe page the couple created with the stated purpose of getting Bobbitt back on his feet.
But prosecutors said D’Amico and McClure fabricated the story and spent the money on vacations, a BMW and other luxury goods. They said Bobbitt’s share was $25,000, some of which he spent on drugs. Unspent money was to be given back to the donors.
Bobbitt pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy and federal money laundering and was sentenced to five years of probation. McClure also pleaded guilty to federal charges.
D’Amico is expected to receive a 5-year prison sentence during a hearing in April. He still faces federal charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering.
“We are pleased that this defendant accepted responsibility for his role in this scam,” Burlington County prosecutor Scott Coffina said. “He will be required to make full restitution to GoFundMe and the donors — the true victims in this case — and has agreed to a five-year term in New Jersey state prison.”