A New Jersey couple has been hit with criminal charges stemming from a GoFundMe campaign that raised more than $ 400,000 for homeless veteran Johnny Bobbitt, who was also arrested in connection with the money-raising effort that now appears to be an elaborate scam, authorities said.
Kate McClure and her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, were charged with conspiracy and theft by deception, court records obtained by ABC News on Thursday show.
Bobbitt was arrested Wednesday night by the Philadelphia Police Department on charges of being a fugitive from justice, according to Philadelphia police. He has been transferred to Burlington County, New Jersey, to face charges related to the GoFundMe case.
The Burlington County Prosecutors Office scheduled a press conference Thursday afternoon to discuss the case.
McClure, 28, and D’Amico, 39, of Florence Township, were both arrested on Wednesday, according to the court records.
NBC10 in Philadelphia reported Tuesday night that McClure, D’Amico and Bobbitt will face charges that their heartwarming story of raising money for Bobbitt was concocted to deceive people into donating a pot of money to help Bobbitt.
A criminal complaint obtained by NBC10 alleges the couple deliberately prevented donors to their GoFundMe campaign from gaining information “that would affect their judgment about solicited contribution to that fundraising effort.”
Reached Thursday morning, an attorney for McClure and D’Amico told ABC News, “We have no comment. Have a nice day.”
In numerous media appearances, McClure claimed she was driving to meet a friend in September 2017 when she ran out of gas around midnight on the I-95 exit ramp near Philadelphia and Bobbitt, who was sleeping under a nearby overpass, came to her rescue. She claimed Bobbitt spent his last $ 20 to buy her gas.
“I pulled over to the side of the road as far as I could and I was going to get out and walk to the nearest gas station because it was not that far away, and that’s when I met Johnny,” McClure said last November in a “Good Morning America” interview. “He walked up and he said, ‘Get back in the car. Lock the doors. I’ll be back.’ I was just like, ‘OK.'”
She said Bobbitt used his panhandling money to get her out of the jam.
“I almost couldn’t believe it,” McClure added. “I said, ‘Thank you…I swear, I’ll be back. I promise I’ll be back to give you [the] money back.'”
Hoping to repay Bobbitt for the apparent generous act, McClure and D’Amico set up a GoFundMe online account that tugged at people’s hearts and wallets.
“I just got her gas to help her get back on her way. I didn’t think anything about it. I wasn’t expecting anything in return,” Bobbitt, 34, told “Good Morning America.” “That’s how I got the money to start with — from other people. [I had to] return the favor. I can’t constantly take and not give back.”
Now it’s unclear if the entire story was false.
Burlington County prosecutors said they would not discuss the case until Thursday afternoon.
In August, Bobbitt, 35, filed a lawsuit accusing McClure and D’Amico of committing fraud by taking more than half of the money they raised for themselves. His attorney alleged in court papers that the couple treated the donations like their “personal piggy bank to fund a lifestyle that they could not otherwise afford.”
D’Amico and McClure denied the allegations.
In September, the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office launched a criminal investigation into the missing GoFundMe donations and raided the couple’s home, seizing a BMW and other belongings.
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ABC News: U.S.