Johnny Bobbitt, the 36-year-old veteran who admitted to plotting a good Samaritan scam on GoFundMe, was sentenced to five years of probation by a New Jersey state court on Friday.
The hearing lasted just 15 minutes, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The previously homeless man, who also deals with drug addiction, had pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to commit theft by deception. That same month, Bobbitt pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy to commit money laundering, for which he could spend six to 30 months behind bars under his plea deal.
Bobbitt admitted that he’d teamed up in 2017 with Kate McClure, who also pleaded guilty in federal court, and her then-boyfriend to concoct a feel-good story that involved Bobbitt giving McClure his last $20 when she was stranded in her car. After pushing out their false story on social media, the trio was able to raise more than $400,000 through a GoFundMe campaign that went viral.
As part of the plea deal, Bobbitt must enter an inpatient rehabilitation center and testify against his co-defendants, McClure and Mark D’Amico, the Burlington County Times reported. Judge Christopher Garrenger told Bobbitt on Friday that he was being given a chance to avoid prison time and get treatment for his addiction, according to the paper.
If he fails to complete the drug program or otherwise violates the terms of his probation, Bobbitt could face five years in prison.
The group’s GoFundMe story began to unravel nearly a year after it went viral when Bobbitt sued McClure and D’Amico for mismanaging the donations intended for him. In an interview with the Inquirer last August, Bobbitt accused the other two of keeping most of the money and using it for a new car, vacations and gambling.
In November, Bobbitt, McClure and D’Amico were arrested and charged by New Jersey prosecutors with making up the entire story to trick people into giving them money.
D’Amico has not entered any pleas, but he faces state charges of theft by deception, the Inquirer reported. The U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey declined the news outlet’s request to confirm whether it was investigating D’Amico as well.
McClure faces a possible federal sentence of 27 to 33 months in prison, according to the Burlington County Times.