When John covered the sentencing of Jonny Bobbitt in the homeless veteran GoFundMe scam, we knew that there would be more court dates coming for the three defendants over the next several months. As you likely recall, Bobbitt was originally hailed as a down-on-his-luck veteran who gave up his last twenty dollars to motorist Katie McClure when she ran out of gas. McClure and her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, raised nearly half a million dollars to supposedly help out the good Samaritan, but the whole story later unraveled and was shown to be a scam.
Now the next phase of the sentencing has taken place (at the state level, anyway) and we’ve learned many more details as to what happened, at least as claimed by one of the conspirators. Katie McClure entered a guilty plea on charges of theft by deception yesterday. (NPR)
A New Jersey woman pleaded guilty Monday to theft by deception for perpetrating what began as a story of redemption that was revealed to be a ruse.
Katelyn McClure appeared in New Jersey Superior Court, admitting to her role in duping thousands of people out of $400,000 through a fictionalized GoFundMe page purporting to benefit a homeless veteran said to have bought her gas.
McClure, 29, will serve a four-year term in a New Jersey state prison under the plea, according to the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office. Sentencing is set for June 3.
So McClure was given four years as part of a plea deal, but her attorneys are pushing for an “Intensive Supervision” program that would allow her to be released in as little as four months or less. That doesn’t take into account the federal charges of wire fraud that she already pleaded guilty to and will be sentenced for in June. (That could result in twenty years and a quarter million dollar fine.)
Most of the generosity McClure is receiving from the courts is based on her willingness to turn state’s evidence against her former boyfriend, Mark D’Amico. You can click through and read the details in the NPR piece above, but it truly sounds like a case of rats fleeing a sinking ship and turning on each other to cut a more favorable deal. Bobbitt admits to having been in on the scheme and never even giving McClure the twenty bucks but says that after that he was in the dark and only sued the couple when they failed to give him more than a pittance from the GoFundMe money.
McClure similarly claims to have been involved initially, but that D’Amico was the mastermind and she was just along for the ride. She’s also sticking to the claim that she was genuinely trying to help someone, at least initially. But the tales of her big spending and vacation trips leave me rather dubious of her claims. In any event, both McClure and Bobbitt have agreed to testify against D’Amico, so he’s either the master villain in this tale or he’s the fall guy. You can each make up your own mind on that count.