Man involved in GoFundMe scam gets 27 months in federal prison
A New Jersey man who conspired with his then-girlfriend to concoct a feel-good story about a helpful homeless man, then used the lie to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in online donations has been convicted Friday in federal court to more than two years in prison.
Mark D’Amico will also have to serve three years of probation once he completes his 27-month term. He must also pay restitution and follow counseling on gambling, drugs and mental health.
Before being sentenced, D’Amico told U.S. District Judge Noel Hillman that he was a changed man, devoted to his family.
“The person who did the things that brought us here no longer exists,” D’Amico said.
He had pleaded guilty before Hillman in Camden in November to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. An unsealed indictment in January 2020 charged D’Amico with a total of 16 counts of conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering.
He had already pleaded guilty to the charges in state court last year. His former girlfriend, Katelyn McClure, and homeless veteran Johnny Bobbitt Jr. previously pleaded guilty to state and federal charges. Bobbitt was sentenced to five years probation on state charges in 2019. Both are expected to be sentenced on federal charges this year.
The trio made up a story in late 2017 about Bobbitt donating $20 to help McClure when his car ran out of gas in Philadelphia, prosecutors say. D’Amico and McClure solicited donations via GoFundMe, allegedly to help Bobbitt, and conducted newspaper and television interviews. Investigators said D’Amico was the ringleader of the plot.
They ultimately raised more than $400,000 in donations over about a month, according to investigators, who said almost no part of the story was true. The group had met near a Philadelphia casino in October 2017 shortly before they told their story, prosecutors said.
Authorities began investigating after Bobbitt sued the couple, accusing them of not giving him the money. The federal criminal complaint alleged that all of the money raised through the campaign was spent in March 2018, with large chunks spent by McClure and D’Amico on an RV, a BMW and trips to Las Vegas casinos. Vegas and New Jersey.