A New Jersey woman was sentenced to three years in state prison on Friday for her role in a $400,000 GoFundMe scam in which she and her then-boyfriend lied about helping a homeless veteran in Philadelphia.
Katelyn McClure, 32, was already serving a one-year sentence on federal charges related to the case. McClure was sentenced to three years in state prison on Friday for theft charges. According to prosecutors, McClure and her ex-boyfriend, Mark D’amico, created a fake GoFundMe page with a bogus story claiming that a homeless veteran named Johnny Bobbitt Jr. had given McClure his last $20 to help her put gas in her car. At the same time, she was stranded on a highway in Philadelphia. The then couple even went as far as doing television and newspaper interviews to support their campaign, which they named “Paying It Forward.” The campaign’s donors believed that the fundraising would get Bobbitt a home.
In a month, the couple collected $400,000 from 14 donors. However, officials began to look into the story once Bobbitt sued McClure and D’amico, claiming that he never received any money from the campaign. The investigation discovered that most money was spent on a recreational vehicle, a BMW, and trips to Las Vegas and New Jersey casinos.
In a press release Friday, Burlington County Prosecutor LaChia Bradshaw said that “people genuinely wanted to believe it was true. “But it was all a lie, and it was illegal,” she stated. “Our office is pleased to bring justice for the more than 14,000 kind-hearted people who thought they were helping someone who was living in a desperate situation.”
D’Amico was sentenced to five years in state prison in 2019 to run concurrently with a 27-month federal term, and Bobbitt was sentenced to federal and state probation. They have also been ordered to return the funds to GoFundMe.
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