Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina announced on April 12 that the second of three defendants charged in the fictitious GoFundMe campaign that misled donors into contributing more than $400,000 to a fabricated cause pled guilty in superior court.
Under the terms of an agreement with the Prosecutor’s Office, Katelyn McClure of Bordentown will serve a four-year term in New Jersey state prison in exchange for pleading guilty to theft by deception, a second degree offense. The plea was entered before Judge Christopher Garrenger who set sentencing for June 3.
McClure was charged late last year, along with co-defendants Johnny Bobbitt of Philadelphi, and Mark D’Amico of Florence, with concocting a feel-good story that compelled more than 14,000 people to contribute money believed to help Bobbitt, who was homeless and living on the streets of Philadelphia.
Bobbitt pled guilty in March to conspiracy to commit theft by deception, a second degree offense, and was admitted into a superior court drug treatment program. The program allows those with addiction problems to seek treatment instead of being incarcerated.
Coffina also recently announced that under the terms of the sentence, Bobbitt was placed on special probation for up to five years while he fulfills the requirements of the drug court program.
Officials said that participants in the program must obtain employment and adhere to a tightly-structured regimen of treatment and recovery services, are frequently tested for drug use, and must satisfy other conditions as well.
“Mr. Bobbitt was an instrumental part of the fraudulent campaign; indeed he was the face of it,” Coffina said. “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.
“There is no denying that Bobbitt has struggled with addiction, and that his addiction was a factor in his criminal conduct. The proposed agreed-upon sentence, in the state’s view, provides sufficient accountability to Bobbitt for his active role in this fraud through the vigorous standards of a drug court probation, with the certainty of a five-year state prison sentence if he does not adhere to those standards and take advantage of this opportunity. This sentence affords him the chance to turn his life around,” Coffina said.
However, officials from the county prosecutor’s office said that if Bobbitt fails to adhere to the structured regimen of treatment and recovery services, which includes frequent testing for drug use, he could be sentenced to five years in state prison.
As part of their plea agreements, county officials said that both McClure and Bobbitt agreed to make restitution in the amount of $402,766 and must testify against D’Amico, who is currently faced with charges of theft by deception, a second degree offense, and conspiracy to commit theft by deception, a second degree offense.
His case is scheduled to be presented in May to a Burlington County Grand Jury for possible indictment.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutor Andrew McDonnell, supervisor of the BCPO Financial Crimes Unit. The investigation was conducted by the Prosecutor’s Office Financial Crimes Unit and High-Tech Crimes Unit, with assistance from the Florence Township Police Department.