Feel-good story went viral
then became Dawgs Blog dipshits of the day
It was a feel-good story for the ages — a homeless military veteran’s random act of kindness and a New Jersey couple intent on helping him get back on his feet — that inspired people to donate than $400,000 in an online fundraiser when it went viral last fall.
But prosecutors say Mark D’Amico, Kate McClure and Johnny Bobbitt Jr. fabricated the story in an effort to raise money for themselves.
“The paying it forward story that drove this fundraiser might seem too good to be true,” Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said at a press briefing Thursday afternoon. “Unfortunately it was. The entire campaign was predicated on a lie.”
The three were each charged with second-degree conspiracy and theft by deception.
McClure and D’Amico surrendered to authorities on Wednesday and pending a December court date, Coffina said. Bobbitt Jr. was arrested on Thursday in Philadelphia, where he is being held pending extradition to New Jersey.
Coffina said that less than an hour after the couple’s online campaign went live, McClure texted a friend to say the story of Bobbitt assisting her was fake.
“OK so wait, the gas part is completely made up, but the guy isn’t,” McClure wrote, according to prosecutors. “I had to make something up to make people feel bad.”
Ernest Badway, the attorney representing McClure and D’Amico, declined to comment. An for Bobbitt did not immediately return a request from Yahoo News seeking comment.
A spokesman for GoFundMe did not return a request for comment. Coffina said that the company worked closely with investigators, and would be announcing that it will provide a full refund to anyone who donated to the couple’s GoFundMe page.
The tale of the homeless Good Samaritan and his would-be benefactors began in the middle of night last October, when McClure said she ran out of gas on a freeway ramp in Philadelphia.
According to McClure, Bobbitt approached her car, told her it wasn’t safe and went to purchase her gas with his last $20.
“Johnny did not ask me for a dollar, and I couldn’t repay him at that moment because I didn’t have any cash, but I have been stopping by his spot for the past few weeks,” McClure explained in her initial GoFundMe post. “I repaid him for the gas, gave him a jacket, gloves, a hat, and warm socks, and I give him a few dollars every time I see him.”
Inspired by Bobbitt’s selflessness, McClure and D’Amico launched a GoFundMe page with the goal of raising $10,000 to get him an apartment, a vehicle and cover four to six months of expenses.
The story went viral, and the campaign raised more than $400,000 from over 14,000 donations.
“He will never have to worry about a roof over his head again!” the couple wrote in a subsequent post.
But months later, the feel-good story began to unravel.
In August, Bobbitt filed suit against the couple, alleging they were using the money for themselves and had failed to pay him more than $300,000.
In an appearance on NBC’s “Megyn Kelly Live,” McClure and D’Amico denied the allegations, saying they withheld some of the money out of fear Bobbitt would spend it on drugs.
“He is our family,” McClure said.
In September, police raided the couple’s south Jersey home, but they were not charged at the time.
That month, GoFundMe announced that it would pay Bobbitt the rest of the money owed to him.
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