Two people accused of participating in a GoFundMe scam that brought in $400,000 pleaded guilty to two different charges in a federal court in New Jersey on Wednesday.
Johnny Bobbitt, a 36-year-old veteran who was previously homeless, pleaded guilty for conspiracy to commit money laundering at the federal court in Camden, according to local news site NJ.com.
Kate McClure, the woman who claimed that Bobbitt gave her his last $20 for gas when she was stranded in her car in 2017, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. McClure previously claimed she was innocent and said she was “set up” by her then-boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, and Bobbitt.
Bobbitt, McClure and D’Amico are still facing charges from prosecutors in Burlington County.
The trio stands accused of concocting a fake feel-good story about Bobbit using the only money he had to help McClure, turning it into a GoFundMe campaign for $10,000. In the campaign, McClure and D’Amico, a couple at the time, promised to secure a new home, a lawyer and trust funds for Bobbitt.
News organizations across the country, including this one, reported on the story, helping the campaign go viral and earn more than $400,000 in donations.
The story began to unravel nearly a year later after Bobbitt, who struggled with drug addiction, sued McClure and D’Amico for mismanaging the donations intended for him. In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Bobbitt accused McClure and D’Amico of keeping most of the fundraised money and using it for a new car, vacations and gambling.
Last November, New Jersey prosecutors announced that Bobbitt, McClure and D’Amico were arrested and charged with making up the entire story to trick people into giving them money.
McClure claimed in court that she met Bobbitt through D’Amico, who she says hatched the entire scam, including posting the story to GoFundMe, the Burlington County Times reported. D’Amico has not currently been charged with federal crimes.
Burlington County prosecutors said that the plea agreements McClure and Bobbitt made in federal court will not impact the state-level charges.
“Today’s plea agreements do not affect our case against Bobbitt, McClure or D’Amico, all of whom remain answerable to the state charges that have been filed against them,” Joel Bewley, the Burlington County prosecutor’s spokesman, said in a statement to HuffPost.
McClure, who is out of prison on a $100,000 unsecured bond, is facing federal sentencing of 27 to 33 months in prison, according to the Burlington County Times.
Bobbitt, who is being held at the Burlington County Jail, could face up to 10 years in prison, but the Times reported that his sentence is expected to be more like McClure’s.
In connection with the state prosecutor’s charges, Bobbitt is expected to appear in Burlington County’s drug court, where he will have the opportunity to enter a plea deal with prosecutors, according to Bewley.
“He would have to plead guilty, but instead of incarceration, he would be sentenced to probation and enter an addiction treatment program,” Bewley told HuffPost in an email. “He has not entered a plea yet in Drug Court, although he will have the opportunity to do so on Friday.”
GoFundMe has since refunded all the donors who funded the campaign.
This story has been updated with comment from the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office.