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A homeless man and woman who swindled $400,000 from GoFundMe donors using a heartwarming, and ultimately fake, story pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday.
Johnny Bobbitt, 36, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering, according to the Associated Press. Katelyn McClure, 28, also pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in the ruse that took advantage of 14,000 donors across the U.S.
Bobbitt, McClure, and McClure’s boyfriend at the time, Mark D’Amico, conspired together in 2017 to make up a story about Bobbitt giving away his last $20 to McClure as she was stranded alongside the highway, according to prosecutors.
The heartwarming tale gained national media attention, inspiring thousands to donate to a GoFundMe account they allegedly set up to help Bobbitt get back on his feet.
Instead, the couple went on a lavish spending spree with the $403,000, gambling at casinos, traveling to Las Vegas and purchasing a BMW and other expensive items, KYW-TV reports.
Bobbitt also received a portion of the donations and was given an $18,000 trailer purchased by the couple, along with $75,000.
But he would later claim he hadn’t been given his fair share and decided to take legal action, prompting investigators to take a closer look at the trio and discover the deception.
D’Amico did not appear in court on Wednesday and McClure’s attorney James Gerrow declined to say whether she has agreed to testify against him, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Gerrow did say that his client had only wanted to raise $10,000, which he said she had planned to give to Bobbitt to help him get off the streets but said things were “going too far” after money began to pour in.
He claimed D’Amico was the “one who took control” and encouraged them to keep going with the scheme even after McClure had questioned the idea, according to KYW-TV.
Bobbitt, McClure and D’Amico also still have conspiracy and theft by deception charges filed in the case by Burlington County prosecutors.
McClure, who could face up to 33 months in prison on the federal charges, is slated for sentencing June 19. She has been released on a $100,000 unsecured bond and prohibiting from traveling outside of the United States while awaiting her sentence.
Bobbitt could face up to 30 months in federal prison for the charge he pleaded guilty to Wednesday. His sentencing is postponed until he completes a drug program. He’s scheduled to appear in Drug Court in Mount Holly on Friday, the Inquirer reports.
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