CAMDEN – A man admitted to crafting a fake story to raise funds for a homeless man, while keeping most of the money.
Mark D’Amico, 42, formerly of Bordentown, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
He joins two other people who pleaded guilty in the scheme: Katelyn McClure and Johnny Bobbitt Jr., who was the actual homeless man in question.
It was a feel-good story. You might have even seen it online: McClure ran out of gas on I-95 while driving home from Philadelphia. The homeless man gave his last $20 to buy gasoline for her. D’Amico and McClure started up a GoFundMe called “Paying It Forward,” where they tried to raise $10,000 to get Bobbitt off the streets.
News outlets loved the story, not realizing it was fiction. The campaign raised about $400,000 in less than a month.
Police said this money was transferred by D’Amico and McClure into their own accounts. They spent most of it on personal expenses. D’Amico, for example, spent it on gambling, vacations, a BMW, and clothing.
D’Amico and McClure did tell Bobbitt about the fake story, and opened a bank account for him. They deposited $25,000 into the account.
The charge of wire fraud conspiracy carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is set for March 28, 2022.
Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael Honig credited special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Montanez, and special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. She also thanked the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Scott Coffina; and officers of the Florence Township Police Department for their work on the case.