On Friday, Katelyn McClure from New Jersey, who had lied about helping a homeless veteran in Philadelphia, received a three-year sentence in state prison. She and her then boyfriend concocted a scheme to raise money for a homeless veteran through a GoFundMe page. It raised more than $400,000. Both of them transferred a small amount of funds to the veteran and used the larger share on a spending spree.
According to the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, Katelyn McClure was not present in court, when she was sentenced to a three-year prison term. She was in a prison in Connecticut as she was serving a one-year federal term, in the case. The state term and federal term will run concurrently.
The 32-year-old former worker with the New Jersey Department of Transportation has been permanently barred from working as a public employee in the state of New Jersey.
In 2017, Katelyn McClure and her then boyfriend Mark D’Amico made up a false but heartwarming story that a homeless veteran used his last $20 to buy gas for her car, when she was stranded on I-95 in Philadelphia.
Both of them launched a page on GoFundMe with the title “Paying it Forward.” The page made donors believe that their funds would help Johnny Bobbitt Jr. live in a home and away from the streets. The page went viral and the pair collected over $400,000 from more than 14,000 good and kind souls who were moved by the plight of the veteran.
GoFundMe transferred the funds to their personal accounts. Both of them blew up most of the money collected on personal expenses, in the following three months.
The couple told the veteran about the fake story that they had spun, of which he had been unaware. In December 2017, D’Amico opened a bank account for Bobbitt, according to officials. They deposited $25,000 into this account.
In December 2019, D’Amico pleaded guilty. He got a five-year sentence in state prison. This term is running concurrently with the federal term, received earlier in the case. Both D’Amico and McClure have been ordered to reimburse the funds they received from GoFundMe. Bobbitt received probationary state and federal terms.
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