Alleged ringleader in GoFundMe scam that raised $400,000 now facing federal charges

PHOTO: Mark DAmico stands before pleading not guilty during his arraignment to charges including theft by deception at Burlington County Superior Court in Mount Holly, N.J.PlayTim Tai/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP, FILE
WATCH GoFundMe alleged scheme organizer faces more charges

A New Jersey man accused of pulling off a GoFundMe scam that raised $400,000 for an invented feel-good story is now facing federal charges, officials said.

Mark D’Amico, 40, was charged with one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiring to commit money laundering, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.

D’Amico, a Bordentown resident, has already been charged in state court with fraud and money laundering for his alleged role in the scheme, and has pleaded not guilty.

PHOTO: Mark DAmico stands before pleading not guilty during his arraignment to charges including theft by deception at Burlington County Superior Court in Mount Holly, N.J. Tim Tai/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP, FILE
Mark D'Amico stands before pleading not guilty during his arraignment to charges including theft by deception at Burlington County Superior Court in Mount Holly, N.J.

In November 2017, D’Amico, his then-girlfriend Katelyn McClure, and Johnny Bobbitt Jr. concocted a feel-good story that Bobbitt, a homeless veteran, gave McClure his last $20 to help her pay for gas after she ran out on a highway in Philadelphia.

“The story told by D’Amico and McClure was not true,” the attorney’s office said. “McClure never ran out of gas and Bobbitt never spent his last $20 for her. D’Amico and McClure conspired to create a false story to obtain money from donors based on false information.”

The three gained national media attention, and soon enough around $400,000 had been raised for Bobbitt via GoFundMe -- funds that the former couple said was going towards securing Bobbitt housing, according to prosecutors.

Instead, D’Amico and McClure spent the money on personal expenses over the three months, including significant amounts on gambling, vacations, a BMW automobile, clothing, handbags and other personal items and expenses, officials said.

Bobbitt sued the couple for not giving him the money, prompting authorities to investigate them.

PHOTO: Mark DAmico appears in Florence Municipal Court to answer to charges of driving with a suspended license and defiant trespass, Dec. 17, 2018, in Florence, N.J. Jose F. Moreno/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP, FILE
Mark D'Amico appears in Florence Municipal Court to answer to charges of driving with a suspended license and defiant trespass, Dec. 17, 2018, in Florence, N.J.

Bobbitt and McClure have both pleaded guilty to federal and state crimes.

McClure faces four years in state prison and must help repay the $400,000, according to the Associated Press. Her federal sentencing is scheduled for November.

Bobbitt was sentenced to five years’ probation in state court and agreed to help repay the money, the AP reported. His federal sentencing is scheduled for later this month.

D’Amico faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the wire fraud charge, while conspiracy to commit money laundering carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Prosecutors have said he was the ringleader of the group, according to the Associated Press.