Johnny Bobbitt became the sympathetic face of a GoFundMe fundraising scam which raised $400,000. Today, NBC News reports Bobbitt was sentenced to five years probation plus mandatory drug treatment for his role in the scam and has agreed to testify against the couple that helped make him an object of sympathy around the country:
Johnny Bobbitt Jr., 36, pleaded guilty last month in New Jersey state court to conspiracy to commit theft by deception for his role in the scam that prosecutors on Friday said “worked brilliantly.”As a part of his plea deal, Bobbitt agreed to enter a drug treatment program.
The Philadelphia man will be taken to an inpatient rehabilitation center before he can be released. If he violates his probation, a state judge told Bobbitt he will go straight to state prison for five years. Bobbitt also agreed to testify against his co-defendants.
“Mr. Bobbitt was an instrumental part of the fraudulent campaign; indeed he was the face of it,” Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said in a statement. “He admittedly promoted and perpetuated the false narrative that he had given his last $20 to his co-conspirator Kate McClure when she had run out of gas on the side of the highway, with the intent to manipulate the goodwill of others to obtain money for himself.”
The plan to raise money for Bobbitt online was wildly successful, but the co-conspirators had a falling out over the gains. Bobbitt claimed to the media that he hadn’t been given access to his money and the couple, Katie McClure and Mark D’Amico, went on television and claimed he had blown through his money buying drugs. Lawyers got involved but the entire thing fell apart when it became clear the entire story posted in GoFundMe was a scam from the start.
Katie McClure pleaded guilty to wire fraud last month and will face sentencing this summer:
McClure pleaded guilty in federal court last month. She faces up to 33 months in prison when she is sentenced on June 19. She also faces charges of conspiracy and theft by deception charges filed by Burlington County prosecutors. That case is pending.
D’Amico also faces theft by deception charges in the Burlington County case.
D’Amico has apparently denied doing anything wrong. I’m not sure how that’s possible. He may not have come up with the scheme but he clearly knew a lot of money was coming in and where it was coming from. It seems unlikely he was in the dark about the real story behind it. I wonder if McClure will wind up testifying against her (former?) boyfriend.
When I first heard about this story it looked to me like a couple was trying to help a homeless drug addict who wasn’t doing much to help himself. Turns out he was trying to help himself all along and the sweet couple were just grifters taking advantage of decent people.
There’s a comparison to be drawn between this case and the Jussie Smollett affair. In both cases, a trio of liars used people’s goodwill for their own benefit. At least Bobbitt had to admit what he did wrong and it seems McClure will spend some time in prison. But Smollett got off without even admitting he’d done anything wrong. He’s still pretending he was a victim rather than the mastermind of an ugly hoax.