The man charged as the ringleader behind a GoFundMe scam was sentenced on Friday to serve 27 months in a federal prison. A New Jersey federal judge also said that Mark D’Amico, formerly of Bordentown, had to spend three years on probation, pay restitution, and undergo gambling, drug and mental health counseling, according to The Associated Press.
According to the authorities, D’Amico, his former girlfriend Katelyn McClure, and Johnny Bobbitt Jr. raised about $400,000 over GoFundMe thanks to a fabricated story in which Bobbitt, who was homeless, gave McClure “his last 20 dollars” when she ran out of gas in Philadelphia, prosecutors alleged. The couple ostensibly raised the money to support the apparently kindhearted and homeless veteran, but authorities said they spent “most” of the money “on themselves.”
“McClure was correct not to trust D’Amico with the money,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum which referenced communications among the group. “D’Amico and McClure . . . went on trips together, they bought luxury items, and D’Amico invested in cryptocurrency. Most significantly, he gambled away a majority of the money individuals donated to GoFundMe for Bobbitt’s benefit. All of the money was gone by March 2018.”
The document then explained how the scheme unfolded:
In Summer 2018, local media reports indicated that Bobbitt was again homeless, which led to national media coverage of the dispute between D’Amico/McClure and Bobbitt. D’Amico and McClure tried to maintain their story that at least $150,000 to $200,000 of the funds were sitting in an account for Bobbitt’s benefit, but that story soon unraveled, too. D’Amico began the scheme with lies, furthered it with lies, and ended it with lies.
Bobbitt sued D’Amico and McClure, saying they stiffed him on the money.
D’Amico pleaded guilty in late November 2021 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release at the time. He faced a possible maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, but maximum penalties are rarely meted out in federal sentencing proceedings. The government’s sentencing memorandum indicates that the term of incarceration agreed to by the judge is in line with federal sentencing guidelines and is exactly what prosecutors sought.
His federal plea agreement says he also “agree[d] to make full restitution to the victims for all losses resulting form the offense.” By pleading guilty, he further agreed to waive most of his rights to an appeal.
McClure and Bobbitt pleaded guilty back in March 2019 to federal charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, the DOJ noted. (They also reportedly pleaded guilty in state court.) Both are currently scheduled to be sentenced on separate dates in late May in the federal proceedings.
D’Amico spoke to reporters after his sentencing, according to Philadelphia CBS affiliate KYW-TV. He said he could prove through text messages that the story was McClure’s idea, but prosecutors said he was the ringleader behind the scheme.
Mark D’Amico has been sentenced to 27 months in federal prison.
He is one of the three people involved in a fraudulent GoFundMe campaign that raised $400,000 with a false, feel-good story about repaying a homeless veteran’s act of kindness.https://t.co/egoOpfSJjL
— The Philadelphia Inquirer (@PhillyInquirer) April 1, 2022
In any case, D’Amico insisted in court that he had changed.
“The person that did the things that led us here no longer exists,” he reportedly said.
Read the complaint and the plea agreement as to D’Amico below:
Aaron Keller contributed reporting from federal court records.
[Featured image via WTXF screenshot; other images as noted.]
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