What was believed to be a heartwarming tale about the kindness of strangers was too good to be true, according to New Jersey prosecutors.
Prosecutors say Katelyn McClure, Mark D’Amico and Johnny Bobbitt worked together to create a get-rich-quick scheme which captivated the nation last year.
“The entire campaign was predicated on a lie,” said Scott Coffina, Prosecutor in Burlington County, New Jersey.
McClure claimed Bobbitt, a homeless veteran, came to her aid when she ran out of gas. People donated more than $400,000 to a GoFundMe account the couple started to help Bobbitt get back on his feet.
But things took a sour turn over the summer.
“Less than an hour after their GoFundMe page went live, McClure in a text exchange with a friend stated that story about Bobbitt assisting her was fake,” Coffina explained.
Bobbitt ended up suing McClure and D’Amico, accusing them of using the money for themselves. The couple, in turn, said they didn’t want Bobbitt to waste the cash on drugs.
Investigators say the couple bought a car, trips and handbags with the money.
Now, all three face charges of theft by deception and conspiracy. Each count carries a five to 10-year prison sentence with a conviction.
McClure and D’Amico have been arrested and released. They’re expected back in court on Dec. 24.
McClure’s attorney released the following statement late Thursday afternoon:
“I’m confident that in the end, the evidence will reveal that Kate had only the best intentions. She was used by Mr. D’Amico and Mr Bobbitt and she thought throughout that this money was going to a homeless veteran. She was unaware that they had concocted this scheme.
It wasn’t until September when meeting with prosecutors that she came to realize that she had been used by both of them.”
Bobbitt is still in custody awaiting extradition. GoFundMe says it will refund all donations.