Katelyn McClure and then-boyfriend Mark D’Amico formulated a bogus story in 2017 about a homeless veteran, Johnny Bobbitt, that went viral and raised approximately $400,000 from over 40,000 donors on GoFundMe.
On the listing, McClure explained that her car ran out of gas on Philadelphia’s Interstate 95 in the middle of the night when Bobbitt came to her rescue. The homeless stranger offered McClure his last $20 to put gas in the tank so she could get home.
As a thank-you, McClure and D’Amico started a GoFundMe for Bobbitt, hoping to raise $10,000 to get him off the street. Instead, the heartwarming story went viral, and the couple received more donations than expected.
Bobbitt claimed that the couple only gave him $75,000 and spent the rest on themselves. McClure and D’Amico reported providing the veteran with a camper, television, cellphones, and a vehicle.
In 2018, Bobbitt sued the couple, accusing them of using the donated money on personal expenses, including a luxury car, vacations, clothes, and trips to the casino. He stated the GoFundMe donations were being used as “their personal piggy bank to fund a lifestyle that they could not otherwise afford.”
An investigation was launched, and McClure and D’Amico were exposed for fabricating the story – McClure never ran out of gas on the highway, and Bobbitt never came to her rescue. Instead, the couple had met Bobbitt a month before at the casino they frequented in Philidelphia.
Federal prosecutors reported that minutes after launching the GoFundMe account, McClure texted a friend explaining that the story was bogus, stating that she “had to make something up to make people feel bad.”
Subsequently, McClure was suspended from her job with the state Department of Transportation and pleaded guilty to second-degree theft by deception. Last Thursday, McClure was sentenced to one year in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
In a statement to the Washington Post, D’Amico’s attorney insisted the couple had good intentions and wanted to help the veteran get back on his feet. Ultimately, D’Amico pleaded guilty and settled on a five-year plea deal.
Both McClure and D’Amico were ordered to pay $400,000 in restitution.
Bobbitt was ordered to a drug rehabilitation center.