Advertisement
  1. News

Charges are being filed against the homeless vet and couple who raised $400,000 for him online

In this November 17, 2017, file photo, Johnny Bobbitt Jr., left, Kate McClure, right, and McClure's boyfriend Mark D'Amico pose at a Citgo station in Philadelphia. Bobbitt, a homeless man whose selfless act of using his last $20 to fill the gas tank of a stranded motorist in Philadelphia drew worldwide attention, filed suit against D'Amico and McClure, the couple who led a $400,000 GoFundMe fundraising campaign to help him, contending the couple mismanaged donations and committed fraud by taking contributed money for themselves. (Elizabeth Robertson/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS) 1239517
Published Nov. 15, 2018

The homeless veteran and couple who raised $400,000 for him through GoFundMe are now facing criminal charges in Burlington County, N.J., where prosecutors say the whole thing was a ruse.

It was one of last year's most heartwarming feel-good stories: A homeless veteran gives his last $20 to a woman who ran out of gas along Interstate 95 in Jersey, so she and her boyfriend start a GoFundMe campaign to pay back his kindness and raise $400,000.

Then things got weird.

The man, John Bobbitt, sued the couple for spending all his cash on cars, shopping sprees and vacations. Then GoFundMe said it'd pay it out to him and New Jersey authorities seized cars and evidence from Kate McClure and Mark D'Amico's home.

But prosecutor Scott Coffina was not done. Following the September raid, Coffina said the investigation would continue. His office announced a major update in the case would be released Thursday afternoon, but multiple news outlets in Philadelphia that cover the South Jersey area said the three now face charges of conspiracy and theft by deception.

According to a Philadelphia NBC affiliate, the whole story was a scheme to get cash. Bobbitt and the couple worked together to concoct the tale and gain sympathy and cash.

It worked.

The November 2017 campaign went viral and the three became famous, even making appearances on TV shows. More than 14,000 people raised more than $400,000. The initial goal was $10,000.

But the partnership began to unravel after that.

The last year has been wrought with allegations of theft and wrongdoing between the parties, leading to more attention. Coffina said it was that public interest that prompted him to investigate further, ultimately raiding the couple's home and learning of the ruse, according to local outlets.

NBC reported that D'Amico and McClure turned themselves in to authorities Wednesday, but Bobbitt's whereabouts were unknown.

Contact Daniel Figueroa IV at dfigueroa@tampabay.com. Follow @dansuscripts.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. A sign seen on the front door of Pom Pom’s Teahouse and Sandwicheria in March, after owner Tom Woodard stopped serving drinks with plastic straws. The St. Petersburg City Council voted 5-2 on Thursday night to ban single-use plastic straws. [CHRIS URSO  |  Times]
    The City Council tweaked its own ordinance banning single-use plastic straws, which is set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
  2. Student activists with the March For Our Lives group, founded after the Feb. 2018 Parkland shooting, hold a banner that promotes their new "peace plan" to prevent gun violence, while demonstrating in the rotunda of the state capitol building in Tallahassee. Emily L. Mahoney | Times
    The 18-year-old student director of March for Our Lives Florida said school shootings are so common they are “not shocking” anymore.
  3. Steven Currall prepares to deliver an address during his investiture as the University of South Florida's seventh president Thursday at the Yuengling Center in Tampa. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times
    Though he started the job in July, Steve Currall is officially installed as president on his 137th day in office.
  4. Apollo Global Management has offered $130 per share for Tech Data's stock in an acquisition worth $5.4 billion. If regulators shareholders approve, the home-grown company will remain based in Pinellas County, where it employs 2,000 of its 14,000 workers. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Private equity firms like Apollo create wealth for pension funds, financial institutions and individual investors by buying assets that typically are sold later at a profit.
  5. Some of Tampa Bay's largest companies are being sold or are up for sale. Times files and Bloomin' Brands
    Tech Data is just the latest in a growing list of public companies bought up by out-of-state firms.
  6. Gov. Ron DeSantis greets local officials at Dunedin High School on Oct. 7, 2019, part of a swing around the state to announce his plan to boost starting teacher pay in Florida to $47,500. He revealed a related teacher bonus plan on Nov. 14 in Vero Beach. MEGAN REEVES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The new plan would replace the controversial Best and Brightest model that DeSantis had called confusing.
  7. The "#9pmroutine" is a core social media feature for the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. Now, the agency has a copyright on it. Facebook
    Copyrighting a key part of the agency’s social media presence isn’t meant to limit its reach, the office said, but rather to stop bad actors.
  8. USF student Gabriela Young is the owner of Earth and Ivory, an online jewelry business with items made out of clay.  [Special to the Times | Sarah Foster] SARAH FOSTER  |  Special to the Times | @sarahtheartiste
    Gabriela Young went from selling bracelets to friends to making clay wares for customers with her business, Earth and Ivory.
  9. Chief Veterinarian Mallory Offner examines a female rescue puppy at the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center in Tampa. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times
    With 250 of the pooches ready for adoption, each potential puppy parent has a 1-in-4 shot at getting picked in today’s drawing.
  10. Eight vehicles were involved in a fiery and fatal crash late Wednesday that left two people dead and shut down northbound Interstate 75 bridging Hillsborough and Pasco counties, authorities said. The driver of the white van pictured above, George Pagan of Tampa, said he saw the semi-trailer truck, left, sliding sideways toward him in his rearview mirror before impact. Pasco Fire Rescue
    The chain-reaction crash that closed the northbound lanes near the Pasco-Hillsborough line started when a semi-trailer truck driver didn’t stop for traffic, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement