Johnny Bobbitt (above), 36, admitted Friday conspiring to commit a robbery in a 2017 GoFundMe
A homeless man, who has already been hailed as a hero for helping a broken driver, pleaded guilty to fabricating a story to scam 14,000 GoFundMe donors out of $ 400,000.
Johnny Bobbitt, 36, has admitted to being guilty of conspiring to commit theft by deception.
Bobbitt also agreed to testify against her alleged co-conspirators, Katelyn McClure, 28, and her ex-boyfriend, Mark D'amico, 39, under an advocacy agreement.
The authorities say the trio invented a story of 2017 – which went viral – claiming that Bobbitt had offered McClure $ 20 as fuel after his car broke down on a Philadelphia highway.
The alleged conspirator Katelyn McClure (left), 28, said Bobbitt had offered her last $ 20 after her car ran out of gas on a Philadelphia highway.
The couple appeared on television several times to tell the story again – but prosecutors say it was a lie (photo: Bobbitt and McClure in a TV interview 2017)
McClure and D & # 39; Amico then created a GoFundMe page on behalf of Bobbitt, asking the public to donate money as a reward for the act of kindness committed at random by the homeless.
They said that they had started the page in the hope of raising $ 10,000 to buy hot clothes in Bobbitt and get him out of the street permanently.
However, the campaign raised more than $ 400,000 out of 14,000 individual donations and garnered worldwide media coverage.
McClure and Bobbitt have also appeared on television many times to tell the story – but prosecutors say it was all a lie.
Instead, rather than donating all the profits to Bobbitt, as announced the fundraiser, the couple had earned $ 275,000 and had spent it on sumptuous shopping and vacations luxury.
The older couple would also have bought a brand new BMW with its supposed share of money.
As part of a plea agreement, Bobbitt agreed to testify against McClure and his former boyfriend Mark D & # 39; Amico in New Jersey Superior Court on Friday.
In his plea, Bobbitt said that the former couple "had taken the initiative to start fundraising, and that he had become a volunteer actor once crowdfunding had already begun"
Instead of paying all the profits back to Bobbitt, prosecutors said that Amico and McClure had used the majority of the funds, spent on branded clothing, on vacation and even buying a BMW (photo: D & # 39; Amico and McClure during a Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour)
However, the relationship between the couple and Bobbitt took a turn after he sued them for failing to cede all fundraising activities to him last year.
New Jersey attorneys said the fallout had prompted them to launch an investigation into the entire story.
In his plea, Bobbitt said that the former couple "had taken the initiative" to start raising funds and that he had become a volunteer actor once crowdfunding had already begun.
The former navy has been fighting addiction for several years.
He should serve a five-year probation and be enrolled in a rehabilitation program that will allow him to avoid jail time when he stays clean.
Otherwise, he will serve the full length of his sentence in state jail.
McClure (left) pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit computer fraud. A case of conspiracy to commit a robbery by deception is still pending against her and D'Amico (right). D'Amico denies any wrongdoing
On Wednesday, Bobbitt had separately pleaded guilty to money laundering and was facing up to 3 years in prison.
The District Judge agreed to postpone the sentence until the end of his rehabilitation program.
McClure pled guilty to a conspiracy to commit electronic fraud in federal court on Wednesday.
Prosecutors have also filed suit against McClure and Amico for robbery by deception, but this case is still pending.
D'Amico denied any involvement in the allegedly illegal scheme.