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A homeless veteran and a New Jersey woman who scammed well-meaning GoFundMe donors out of more than $400,000 with a fake feel-good story pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy and money laundering charges in federal court, multiple outlets report.
Johnny Bobbitt, 36, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, The New York Times reports.
Bobbitt, a military veteran, faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. His sentencing has not yet been scheduled.
McClure faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. She is scheduled to be sentenced on June 19.
Bobbitt, McClure and Mark D’Amico, 39, her boyfriend at the time, face state conspiracy and theft-by-deception charges in New Jersey, philly.com reports.
They have all pleaded not guilty to the state charges against them.
The failed scheme began in November 2017 when McClure and D’Amico praised Bobbitt for being a “Good Samaritan,” gushing that he spent his last $20 to help her when her car ran out of gas in Philadelphia.
Moved by the story, thousands of good-hearted donors gave more than $400,000 to help Bobbitt start a new life.
But it was all a lie.
“The ‘pay it forward’ story that drove this fundraiser might seem too good to be true,” Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said during a news conference last fall. “Unfortunately it was.”
Coffina added, “The entire campaign was predicated on a lie.”
The three initially met at an off-ramp near a casino in Philadelphia they frequented a month before the plan was concocted and hatched, authorities said.
The plan worked — for a time. Donations, minus the amount detracted in fees, totaled more than $367,000, which was allegedly deposited into D’Amico’s accounts. Bobbitt received $75,000 of the money, Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said at the time.
“But he wanted his fair share of the take,” the prosecutor added.
That’s because McClure and D’Amico allegedly spent their share on lavish items like handbags and trips and even had plans for a book deal.
Coffina alleged at the time that D’Amico and McClure had “squandered” the money by mid-March — about four months after setting up the GoFundMe.
GoFundMe officials refunded donations made to the fraudulent campaign.
• with reporting by CHAR ADAMS