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By Tim Stelloh
A New Jersey woman pleaded guilty Monday to helping swindle thousands of GoFundMe donors out of more than $400,000 with what authorities called a “fairy tale narrative.”
Katelyn McClure, 29, pleaded guilty to theft by deception and will serve a four-year term in state prison, the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement.
Prosecutors have said that McClure and Mark D’Amico, 39, fabricated the “feel good story” about a 36-year-old homeless veteran, Johnny Bobbitt, who gave the couple his last $20 after they ran out of gas on Interstate 95.
McClure and D’Amico created a GoFundMe campaign that aimed to raise $10,000 to get Bobbitt off the streets.
The then-couple raked in $402,000 from 14,000 donors — a sum authorities say they quickly spent on gambling, a BMW and a trip to Las Vegas, among other things.
Bobbitt pleaded guilty in March to second-degree theft by deception and was admitted to a drug treatment program last week, the prosecutor’s office said.
Bobbitt and McClure have agreed to pay $402,000 in restitution and to testify against D’Amico, who is also set to face theft and conspiracy charges in the case, authorities said.
The prosecutor’s office said those charges will be presented to a grand jury next month for a possible indictment.
A lawyer who has represented D’Amico did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.