AP NEWS

Man indicted in gas money scam involving homeless veteran

May 8, 2019
FILE - In this Sept. 18, 2018 file photo Mark D'Amico sits in Burlington City Municipal Court where he appeared regarding citations for driving with a suspended license, in Burlington City, N.J. The New Jersey man was indicted on charges stemming from his role in fabricating a feel-good story about a homeless man rescuing a woman from the side of a highway in order to scam online donors out of $400,000 in contributions, prosecutors said Wednesday, May 8, 2019. (Jessica Griffin/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP, Pool)

MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey man was indicted on charges stemming from his role in fabricating a feel-good story about a homeless man rescuing a woman from the side of a highway in order to scam online donors out of $400,000 in contributions, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said 39-year-old Mark D’Amico, of Florence, was indicted on six separate charges related to the scheme.

A message has been left with D’Amico’s attorney for comment.

Johnny Bobbitt and Katelyn McClure pleaded guilty in exchange for their cooperation with authorities.

McClure, who is D’Amico’s ex-boyfriend, pleaded guilty in state Superior Court in April to second-degree theft by deception under a plea agreement that calls for her to serve four years in state prison and help repay the $400,000.

McClure must also testify against D’Amico. He has earlier denied wrongdoing.

Bobbitt, a homeless military veteran, was sentenced last month to five years’ probation for his role in the scheme. Under his plea agreement, he will also help repay the money, according to prosecutors.

Authorities say the trio concocted the story that Bobbitt rescued McClure, D’Amico’s then-girlfriend, from the side of a Philadelphia interstate in 2017 to enrich themselves.

Prosecutors say the three split the money and spent lavishly, including on a BMW, designer bags and trips to Las Vegas and elsewhere.

The group solicited donations through GoFundMe, purportedly to help Bobbitt, and got significant attention with a media blitz that included posing for photos together, revisiting the spot where they claimed they first met, and appearing on “Good Morning America.”

In all, more than 14,000 people contributed.

Prosecutors say the scheme “was designed to pull at the heartstrings of caring, trusting individuals.”

GoFundMe says it has refunded the money.

McClure and Bobbitt also pleaded guilty in March to federal charges stemming from the scheme.

D’Amico has not been charged in federal court.