TRENTON, NJ (AP) – A man from New Jersey who conspired with his girlfriend to concoct a welfare story about a helpful homeless man, then used the lie to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations in line pleaded guilty Monday in federal court.
Mark D’Amico pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Noel Hillman in Camden to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. An indictment unsealed in January 2020 charged D’Amico with a total of 16 counts of conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering.
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The 42-year-old had previously pleaded guilty to charges in state court last year. His former girlfriend, Katelyn McClure, and homeless veteran Johnny Bobbitt Jr. had previously pleaded guilty to state and federal charges. Bobbitt was sentenced to five years probation on charges against the state in 2019. Both are expected to be sentenced on federal charges in early 2022.
The trio made up a story in late 2017 about Bobbitt giving $ 20 to help McClure when his car ran out of gas in Philadelphia, prosecutors said. D’Amico and McClure solicited donations through GoFundMe, allegedly to help Bobbitt, and conducted newspaper and television interviews. Investigators said D’Amico was the leader of the conspiracy.
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The scam ultimately raised more than $ 400,000 in donations in the span of a month, according to investigators, who said almost no part of the story was true and that instead , the group met near a Philadelphia casino in October 2017, shortly before telling their story. .
Authorities began investigating after Bobbitt sued the couple, accusing them of not giving him the money. The federal criminal complaint alleged that all of the money raised during the campaign was spent in March 2018, with much of it spent by McClure and D’Amico on an RV, a BMW, and trips to Las Vegas casinos. and New Jersey.
D’Amico is expected to be sentenced in March. A message requesting comment was left with his lawyer on Monday.
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