Homeless vet and woman plead guilty in $400,000 GoFundMe scheme

Two admit $600,000 GoFundMe hoax about homeless man

A homeless man and a woman have pleaded guilty to federal charges in a GoFundMe scheme that prosecutors say netted $400,000 with a phony story about him coming to her aid.

USA military veteran Johnny Bobbitt, 36, pleaded guilty in court to conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The charge that Bobbitt pleaded guilty to carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

In November 2017, McClure and D'Amico allegedly created a page on GoFundMe's website detailing how Bobbitt acted as a "good Samaritan" and rescued McClure.

The premise of the story that went viral in 2017 was that New Jersey resident Kate McClure ran out of gas on Interstate 95 in Philadelphia and a homeless veteran from North Carolina, Johnny Bobbitt Jr., gave her his last $20 while she was stranded.

The scheme raised $US400,000 ($550,000), which the couple claimed would be donated to Bobbitt. After they had raised the $400,000, it was transferred to local bank accounts, and D'Amico ultimately set one up for Bobbitt with the objective of sharing the money, McClure confirmed.

Instead, authorities say the trio split the cash and blew it on lavish trips and designer goods.

McClure, D'Amico and Bobbitt have all plead not guilty to the state charges against them.

GoFundMe said it had refunded all the donations.

AP wire services helped contribute to this report. All three participants still face state charges in New Jersey.

Prosecutors said the feel-good tale that made global headlines in 2017 was predicated on a lie. In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Bobbitt accused McClure and D'Amico of keeping most of the fundraised money and using it for a new vehicle, vacations and gambling. D'Amico has not now been charged with federal crimes. He added that she encouraged D'Amico twice to put an end to the GoFundMe as it started to spiral out of control. The following month, McClure and D'Amico deposited $25,000 of the proceeds into Bobbitt's account, authorities said.

'I told Kate this was inevitable once the charges had been made public by the Prosecutor, ' her lawyer James Gerrow told the publication.

At an earlier hearing county prosecutor Scott Coffina said: "The entire campaign was predicated on a lie".

McClure could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the offense, although she is much likelier to receive 27 to 33 months, based on her lack of criminal history.

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