World News

Homeless 'good Samaritan' gets probation in gas money scam

Homeless 'good Samaritan' gets probation in gas money scam

Burlington County, N.J. Superior Court Judge Christopher Garrenger said the probation is administered by the drug court, a judicially supervised court docket handling cases of non-violent substance-abusing offenders.

Johnny Bobbitt Jr. pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to commit theft by deception in a New Jersey state court.

Bobbitt along the couple, Kate McClure and Mark D'Amico, who have since broken up, were charged with concocting a story to scam kindhearted strangers out of money with a sensational story of helping homeless Bobbitt start a new life.

Prosecutors said Bobbitt, a veteran who was homeless at the time, posed with McClure, who posted a fake story to GoFundMe in which she said she was raising money for Bobbitt after he generously gave her his last $20 when her vehicle ran out of gas on the highway. If he fails to follow the rules, a judge could remove him from the program and impose a five-year jail sentence.

GoFundMe has since made refunds to thousands of people who donated, thinking they were giving to Bobbitt.

That sounds heartwarming, but Bobbitt accused the couple of taking some of the money for themselves.

"The paying-it-forward story that drove this fundraiser might seem too good to be true", Coffina said then. "It was fictitious and illegal and there are consequences".

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

More news: Oil prices rise after OPEC cuts, U.S. sanctions on Iran, Venezuela

"This did not have to happen", McDonnell said. 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.

"He has taken responsibility for this and is willing to cooperate against his co-defendants", said public defender John Keesler.

The veteran was homeless at the time, and had struggled with addiction for several years. "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 a restitution figure of $402,706 representing charitable contributions from 14,347 donors", Garrenger said, adding, "Mr. Bobbitt will compensate the victims for his conduct".

A restitution hearing has been set for November 15 of this year. If he violates the conditions of his drug treatment program, he'll face five years in prison. No sentencing date has been set for either on those federal charges.

In March, McClure pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud.

D'Amico doesn't face any federal charges but was also charged in state court with theft and conspiracy and is also yet to be indicted.


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