The strange case of a couple in New Jersey who raised $US400,000 ($550,004) on GoFundMe for a homeless good Samaritan appears to be skidding into a surprise ending.
Following earlier legal turmoil, the couple reportedly turned themselves in to authorities on Wednesday and will face charges for allegedly conspiring with the man to make up a heartwarming story in order to crowdfund the fortune, according to newly reported court documents.
NBC Philadelphia obtained a copy of a complaint by Burlington County prosecutors that accuses Mark D’Amico and Kate McClure of conspiring with Johnny Bobbitt Jr. to deceive GoFundMe users into making donations. A source familiar with the case told NBC that D’Amico and McClure had already turned themselves in but did not confirm if Bobbitt had done the same.
According to the report, the three made up the story that inspired 14,000 contributors to raise $US400,000 ($550,004) for Bobbitt. In October of 2017, McClure started a GoFundMe campaign that claimed she’d run out of gas on the interstate when Bobbitt, who was allegedly homeless, approached her car. She said that he told her to sit tight and proceeded to use his last $US20 ($28) to get her fuel. Inspired by his kindness, she and her boyfriend, D’Amico, set out to raise $US10,000 ($13,750), allegedly to get him on his feet. A flood of donations ensued as the story went viral and the couple made television appearances. It’s unclear exactly what parts of the story were allegedly made up, but NBC claims that the charges will include conspiracy and theft by deception.
When contacted by Gizmodo, the couple’s attorney, Ernest E. Badway, declined to comment on the pending charges. Bobbitt’s attorney, Christopher Fallon Jr., did not immediately respond to our request for comment.
Burlington County prosecutors told Fox they will hold a press conference at 2pm on Thursday and announce “a major development” in the case.
Investigators have been poring over the case since September. Almost a year after the money was raised, Bobbitt accused the couple of taking the money for themselves. He said that he’d received around $US75,000 ($103,126) but the rest was being withheld. At first, D’Amico claimed that they’d given him closer to $US200,000 ($275,002) and were simply afraid to give him the full amount at once because he has an admitted substance abuse problem. But after a judge ordered the couple to hand over the rest of the money, they claimed it was all gone.
In September, GoFundMe told Gizmodo that it had decided that it would give Bobbitt the full balance of the remaining funds he was owed but the case has been in legal limbo ever since. When contacted on Thursday, a GoFundMe spokesperson told us that the company “can’t confirm the reports” and will have a statement following the press conference this afternoon.
On Thursday afternoon, Burlington County prosecutors announced formal charges against Johnny Bobbitt, Mark D’Amico and Kate McClure. “The entire campaign was predicated on a lie,” Prosecutor Scott Coffina told reporters. More details soon…