Homeless 'good Samaritan' gets probation in gas money scam

Clay Curtis
April 14, 2019

A homeless Philadelphia man, who helped a New Jersey couple fabricate a heartwarming story on GoFundMe that drew in more than $400,000 in donations, was sentenced on Friday to five years of drug court probation, KYW-TV reported.

Bobbitt pleaded guilty last month in state and federal cases to helping concoct a story where he, a homeless man, gave McClure his last $20 when she ran out of gas for her auto. As part of his plea deal, the 36-year-old was immediately transferred from the courtroom in Mount Holly, New Jersey, to an inpatient drug treatment facility following his sentencing.

In November 2017, Bobbitt along with New Jersey couple Kate McClure and Mark D'Amico, created a GoFundMe account claiming to help Bobbitt, who was homeless at the time, after he gave them his last $20 when their auto ran out of gas on a Philadelphia freeway.

The homeless veteran who admitted to conspiring with a New Jersey couple in a shameless GoFundMe scam that raised more than $400,000 has been sentenced to five years' probation on Friday. "He admittedly promoted and perpetuated the false narrative that he had given his last $20 to his co-conspirator Kate McClure when she had run out of gas on the side of the highway, with the intent to manipulate the goodwill of others to obtain money for himself".

The trio gained widespread recognition, and more than 14,000 donors contributed through GoFundMe, ostensibly to help Bobbitt. Instead, McClure and D'Amico spent the money on lavish trips, a vehicle and designer handbags. Bobbitt, who was homeless at the time, exposed the couple's fraud when he filed a lawsuit against McClure and D'Amico in August, arguing they withheld funds and never cut him in on the deal.

What happened to McClure and D'Amico?

Federal authorities investigated the case, and prosecutors said the couple was experiencing financial troubles at the time and used the GoFundMe account as a scam. They also gave him about $25,000, some of which he spent on drugs, prosecutors said.

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McClure and Bobbitt have also pleaded guilty to federal charges and await sentencing. He will be sentenced on the federal charge at a later date. He and McClure were charged last fall in state court with theft and conspiracy but have yet to be indicted by a grand jury.

D'Amico has denied wrongdoing.

Blow-ups of the photos were displayed in court Friday.

The judge warned Bobbitt Friday he would go to prison if he didn't comply with the drug rehabilitation program.

GoFundMe has said it refunded the donations. "This sentence affords him the chance to turn his life around", Coffina said.

"The paying-it-forward story that drove this fundraiser might seem too good to be true", Coffina said then.

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