On Friday, January 6, a judge in South Jersey sentenced a woman who participated in a scam that defrauded 14,000 GoFundMe donors worldwide to three years in state jail. The lady was more than 240 miles away at the time.
Katelyn McClure, 32, of Bordentown, New Jersey, will be freed in July after finishing her federal sentence at a low-security prison in Danbury, Connecticut, for defrauding well-intentioned donors out of $400,000 to ostensibly assist a homeless veteran.
At that time, the federal sentence of one year and one day will be reduced from her state sentence, and it will be determined if she should be granted parole.
McClure fared better than her ex-boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, who devised the deceitful plot.
D’Amico is serving a federal sentence of 27 months at the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.
A judge at the Burlington County Courthouse in Mount Holly will then determine how long he must serve of his five-year state sentence.
There is no parole in the federal prison system, whereas New Jersey’s system is extremely flexible.
Before bringing their case home, state prosecutors paused to let the U.S. Attorney’s Office for New Jersey to perform its job.
D’Amico admitted concocting the fabricated tale of a down-on-his-luck “hero” rushing to McClure’s aid when she ran out of petrol on Route 95 on her trip from Philadelphia to New Jersey in 2017.
It turned revealed that both McClure and Johnny Bobbitt Jr. were involved in the plot.
Together, D’Amico and McClure established the “Paying It Forward” crowdsourcing fundraising campaign on GoFundMe. The effort aimed to raise $10,000 to help get Bobbitt off the streets and fund his initial living expenses.
Even a photograph taken by D’Amico of McClure and Bobbitt standing near a Route 95 off-ramp in Philadelphia was utilised.
The false account of Bobbitt handing McClure his last twenty dollars was soon picked up by local and national news organisations. There was even a guest appearance on the NBC programme “Megyn Kelly Today.”
Donations quickly surpassed the modest 10-thousand-dollar goal. Donations totaling $400,000 were collected in less than a month.
The pair paid it backwards rather than forwards, transferring the GoFundMe funds into accounts they controlled.
According to federal prosecutors, they spent the majority of the money on a BMW, a New Year’s vacation to Las Vegas, a helicopter excursion over the Grand Canyon, and “other personal things and costs.”
McClure did assist Bobbitt in opening his own account. Then they handed him $25,000, a slight increase of 15%.
The ruse failed when Bobbitt sued the couple, wanting to know where the remaining funds were.
D’Amico and McClure accused Bobbitt of spending tens of thousands of dollars in less than two weeks on drugs, legal fees, and donations to his family. They stated that they also purchased him a camper..
The Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office and Florence Township police obtained search warrants to seize numerous pieces of evidence and commenced their investigation. Then the federal government intervened.
At the time, it was the largest GoFundMe hoax ever perpetrated. The crowdfunding company refunded all contributors willingly.
McClure, like D’Amico, must reimburse GoFundMe in full as part of her plea agreement with the government. The former employee of the state Department of Transportation is likewise permanently excluded from public employment.
Bobbitt received favourable agreements from both federal and state prosecutors.
In both cases, judges spared him jail time. A federal judge reduced a three-year sentence to probation, which was accepted by state officials.
To be free, Bobbitt must comply with a rigorous state drug treatment and rehabilitation programme, which includes frequent drug testing.
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