CAMDEN, New Jersey: A homeless man and a woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal charges in a GoFundMe scheme that prosecutors say netted $400,000 with a phony story about him coming to her aid.
Johnny Bobbitt, 36, of Philadelphia, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering, and Katelyn McClure, 28, of Bordentown, New Jersey, pleaded to a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Bobbitt conspired with McClure and her then-boyfriend Mark D'Amico to make up a story in 2017 about Bobbitt giving McClure cash for gas when she was stranded along a Philadelphia highway, according to prosecutors.
The scheme raised $400,000, which the couple claimed would be donated to Bobbitt. Instead, New Jersey authorities said, the three split the money and spent lavishly, including on a car, designer bags, and trips to Las Vegas, Disneyland, Disney World, the Grand Canyon and New York City. GoFundMe says it has refunded all the donations.
The tale of a homeless good Samaritan made international headlines, with the trio appearing on TV. Their relationship soured, though, when Bobbitt sued the couple over what he said was their failure to turn money over to him.
New Jersey prosecutors said the suit led them to start an investigation, including hauling away a BMW they determined was purchased with the funds at the New Jersey home where McClure and D'Amico were living at the time.
All three still face charges in state court. D'Amico's attorney, Mark Davis, says his client denies any wrongdoing and has not been charged by federal authorities.
Years in prison
According to NBC News, Bobbit faces up to 10 years in prison and McClure faces up to 20 years.
At an earlier hearing county prosecutor Scott Coffina said: "The entire campaign was predicated on a lie. It was fictitious and illegal - and there are consequences."
Prosecutors say the feelgood tale that made international headlines in 2017 was predicated on a false story Bobbitt and the couple raised $400,000, which authorities say was spent on luxury items and casino trips.
GoFundMe says it has refunded everyone who contributed to the campaign.
Bobbitt was arrested last November by US marshals in Philadelphia .
D'Amico and McClure surrendered to authorities shortly after, and all were charged with theft by deception.
Investigators initially searched the Florence, New Jersey home of D'Amico and McClure last September after questions arose about what happened to the money they raised for Bobbitt.
Coffina said almost no part of the tale was true. McClure didn't run out of gas. Bobbitt didn't spot her in trouble and give her money.
Prosecutors began investigating after Bobbitt claimed he wasn't getting the money that had been raised on his behalf. He later sued the couple.
It's still not known where all the money ended up.