The couple, who organized the charity campaign and raised $400,000 for the homeless, faces up to 10 years in prison.
Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office filed Kate McClure, a resident of New Jersey, with her partner Mark D’Amico and the homeless Johnny Bobbitt, accused of fraud and collusion, reports CBS News.
At the end of 2017, McClure launched a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe to help Bobbitt, who allegedly rescued the girl by buying her gasoline for the last money. Instead of the planned $10,000, McClure managed to raise $400,000, which she and her boyfriend Mark promised to spend on a house and a car for Bobbitt.
In the summer of 2018, Bobbitt said that he had not received a new house or money collected through a charitable campaign. According to him, the couple gave him a trailer in the state of New Jersey and an old pickup, belonging to McClure, and spent the rest of the money on vacation, a new car and a casino. In August, Bobbitt, who turned out to be a former Marine, sued for a couple in court. In turn, McClure and D’Amico explained that they did not give money to the homeless, because he was a drug addict.
The investigation believes that the couple met Bobbitt at least one month before the start of the campaign at one of the casinos in Philadelphia. They decided to invent a story about the “good homeless” in order to deceive users of the crowdfunding platform and collect as much money as possible. According to prosecutor Scott Coffina, the story that McClure used for the charity campaign could be Bobbitt’s Facebook post, made in 2012. Then the former Marine told how he bought a woman, whose car had died on the highway, gasoline for the last money. “I don’t think this is a coincidence,” the prosecutor noted.
In addition, McClure confessed to her friends that the story about Bobbitt’s help was completely invented. Investigators found that the couple spent most of their money on a BMW, a vacation in Las Vegas, jewelry, expensive things and gambling. About $85,000 McClure and D’Amico were removed from ATMs at various casinos. In his lawsuit, Bobbitt claimed that McClure had transferred only $75,000 to him. The prosecutor stressed that it was Bobbitt’s suit that drew attention to the viral history.
“It could look too good to be true, and, unfortunately, it was not there,” said Prosecutor Coffina. The GoFundMe service will return to users the money they donated. On November 14, Bobbitt was detained in Philadelphia, McClure and D’Amico surrendered to the authorities themselves, they were released on bail. Coffina said that the former Marine Bobbitt deserves sympathy–because of homelessness and the fight against drug addiction. However, all three face up to 10 years in prison.