Al­leged rin­gleader faces more charges in scam

The Morning Call - - LOCAL NEWS -

CAM­DEN, N.J. – A man al­ready charged in state court with scam­ming donors out of more than $400,000 with a fake feel-good story about a home­less veteran is fac­ing fed­eral charges.

The U.S. at­tor­ney’s of­fice charged Mark D’Amico on Thurs­day with wire fraud con­spir­acy and money laun­der­ing con­spir­acy. He was ex­pected to ap­pear in court Thurs­day.

The 40-year-old has al­ready pleaded not guilty to fraud and money laun­der­ing charges in state court.

Pros­e­cu­tors al­leged that D’Amico, his then-girl­friend Kate­lyn McClure and home­less veteran Johnny Bob­bitt made up a story in late 2017 about Bob­bitt giv­ing $20 to help McClure when her car ran out of gas in Philadel­phia. The group so­licited do­na­tions through GoFundMe, pur­port­edly to help Bob­bitt.

The trio did nu­mer­ous news­pa­per and tele­vi­sion in­ter­views, posed for pho­tos to­gether, re­vis­ited the spot where they claimed their first en­counter hap­pened and went on “Good Morn­ing Amer­ica.” Authoritie­s be­gan in­ves­ti­gat­ing af­ter Bob­bitt sued the cou­ple for al­legedly not giv­ing him the money.

In an­nounc­ing crim­i­nal charges last Novem­ber, Burling­ton County Pros­e­cu­tor Scott Cof­fina said al­most no part of the tale was true and that in­stead, the group met near a Philadel­phia casino in Oc­to­ber 2017 shortly be­fore they told their story.

Bob­bitt and McClure have both pleaded guilty to fed­eral and state crimes. McClure faces four years in state prison and must help re­pay the $400,000. She must also tes­tify against D’Amico. McClure’s fed­eral sen­tenc­ing is sched­uled for Novem­ber.

Bob­bitt, a home­less mil­i­tary veteran, was sen­tenced in April to five years’ pro­ba­tion in state court and agreed to help re­pay the money. His fed­eral sen­tenc­ing is sched­uled for later this month.

Authoritie­s have al­leged D’Amico was the rin­gleader and con­cocted the story. The fed­eral crim­i­nal com­plaint re­leased Thurs­day al­leged all of the money raised in the GoFundMe cam­paign was spent by March 2018, with large chunks spent by McClure and D’Amico on an RV, a BMW, and nu­mer­ous trips to casi­nos in Las Ve­gas and New Jer­sey.

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