Johnny Bobbitt pleaded guilty last month in state court to conspiracy to commit theft by deception. Conditions of his sentence include inpatient drug treatment and cooperation with prosecutors against his co-defendants. If he violates those conditions, he will be sentenced to five years in prison with no possibility of parole for at least 18 months.
Bobbitt made no statement in court.
Prosecutors contend Bobbitt, Katelyn McClure, and McClure’s then-boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, made up a story in 2017 about Bobbitt giving $20 to help McClure when her car ran out of gas in Philadelphia.
The trio gained widespread recognition, and more than 14,000 donors contributed through GoFundMe, ostensibly to help Bobbitt. But it was all a scam, Burlington County prosecutors said, intended to enrich the three co-conspirators.
GoFundMe has said it refunded the donations.
Authorities began investigating last year after Bobbitt sued the couple for allegedly not giving him the money almost a year after the story. Bobbitt claimed that while the couple lived a lavish lifestyle with the latest phones and top-brand bags and sunglasses, he lived in a trailer on their driveway.
However, the ensuing police investigation uncovered far more than Bobbitt had intended, exposing how all three them had fabricated the story.
The couple claimed the cash would be donated to Bobbitt, but New Jersey authorities said the three split the money and spent lavishly, including on a BMW, designer bags, and trips to Las Vegas and elsewhere.
In addition to his state plea, Bobbitt pleaded guilty last month to a federal money laundering conspiracy charge. McClure pleaded guilty to one federal count of wire fraud conspiracy. No sentencing date has been set for either person on those federal charges.
Bobbitt on earlier occasions told the court he helped concoct the story and opened a bank account in December 2017 to deposit $25,000 of the donations, according to the Inquirer. D’Amico helped him open the account, he said, and McClure deposited the money.
To encourage more donations, he allowed a photograph of himself with the couple to be posted online.
He appeared in various media interviews, repeating the story.
D’Amico doesn’t face any federal charges. He and McClure were charged last fall in state court with theft and conspiracy but have yet to be indicted by a grand jury.
D’Amico has denied wrongdoing.
Epoch Times reporter Simon Veazey contributed to this report.