A New Jersey man who was involved in a $400,000 GoFundMe scheme which he cooked up with his ex-girlfriend and a homeless veteran pleaded guilty in federal court.
Mark D’Amico, 42, and his ex-girlfriend Katelyn McClure set up the fundraiser after they fabricated a story, claiming that homeless veteran Johnny Bobbitt Jr gave McClure his last $20 for gas after she was left stranded on the interstate.
On Tuesday, D’Amico pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud over two years after McClure and Bobbitt pleaded guilty in 2019.
His sentencing is scheduled for March 28 and is facing a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The GoFundMe campaign called Paying it Forward was created in November 2017 to help financially support Bobbitt.
The false story and campaign made both local and national headlines as the initial $10,000 sought jumped to $400,000 after 14,000 donors supplied funds for the cause.
The couple had deposited the money into their personal accounts and spent the funds on a BMW, vacations, handbags, clothing, gambling, as well as other expensive items.
Bobbitt, however, was not made aware of the scheme until the couple told him after the campaign had raised $1,700.
An account was opened for Bobbitt by the couple in December of that year with $25,000 being deposited.
The scheme, however, had been made public after Bobbitt had sued the couple in August 2018 as he claimed he was owed half of the earned campaign funds.
He also said that the couple had created the scheme to benefit themselves so they could live a lavish lifestyle.
Bobbitt’s lawyer said he had only received $75,000 of the funds as well as a camper and a 19-year-old pickup truck.
Both McClure and D’Amico initially denied these claims, however, and said that they did not want to give Bobbitt a larger sum as they feared he would spend the money on drugs.
D’Amico had said that Bobbitt spent $25,000 in less than two weeks that past December on drugs, in addition to paying overdue legal bills and sending money to his family.
The couple, however, was forced to hand over the remaining funds after the lawsuit was filed by Bobbitt.
Their home was also raided by investigators after they obtained a search warrant and hauled away the couple’s expensive purchases, including the BMW.
In 2019, Bobbitt and McClure pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
D’Amico had also pleaded guilty that year on the state charge of misapplication of entrusted property.
The three of them are still awaiting their sentencing on federal charges.