MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – The Burlington County prosecutor has announced criminal charges tied to a controversial GoFundMe case involving a New Jersey couple and a homeless veteran.

Prosecutor Scott Coffina said Thursday more than $400,000 raised to help a homeless veteran was a same based on a fictitious story. More than 14,000 donors contributed during the 2017 holiday season.

Mark D’Amico, 39, and Kate McClure, 28, set up the account for Johnny Bobbitt, 35, after they say he spent his last $20 to buy gas for McClure when she was stranded on a highway in Philadelphia.

“The entire campaign was predicated on a lie,” said Coffina. “Less than an hour after the GoFundMe campaign went live, McClure, in a text exchange with a friend, state that the story about Bobbitt assisting her was ‘completely made up.’ She did not run out of gas on an I-95 off-ramp, and he did not spend his last $20 to help her.

“Rather, D’Aminco, McClure and Bobbitt conspired to fabricate and promoted a feel-good story that would compel donors to contribute to their cause,” he said.

READ: Prosecutor Scott Coffina Press Release; GoFundMe Probable Cause Document

D’Aminco, McClure and Bobbitt now all face charges of second-degree theft by deception and conspiracy to commit second-degree theft by deception.

Coffina noted D’Aminco and McClure were in custody since Wednesday night while Bobbitt was awaiting extradition from Philadelphia.

Last October, the homeless man used his last $20 to buy gas for a woman, Kate McClure, who was stranded on Interstate 95 in Philadelphia. McClure, in return, created a GoFundMe campaign with her boyfriend Mark D’Amico to raise money for Bobbitt to thank him.

Coffina said D’Aminco and McClure had known Bobbitt for at least a month before the launch of the GoFundMe campaign after becoming friends during visits to a local gambling casino.

Prosecutors say the couple spent the money on a BMW, a New Year’s trip to Las Vegas, high-end hangbags and other items. Cash withdrawals totaling more than $85,363 was withdrawn at or new casinos in Atlantic City, Bensalem, Philadelphia and Las Vegas.

Pay It Forward Timeline (credit: Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office)

“During one text exchange in March 2018, McClure lamented that the pair had less than $10,000 remaining,” said Coffina. “But D’Aminco wasn’t worried. He was certain the payday from the book deal they were pursuing would dwarf the money generated by the GoFundMe campaign. A few months later, when the dispute with Bobbitt became public, D’Amico was not dissuaded. Instead he pitched a title that would encompass the controversy: ‘No Good Deed.'”

Mark D’Amico, Katelyn McClure, Johnny Bobbitt (credit: KYW-TV)

In August, Bobbitt sued, claiming he never received most of the $400,000 raised but rather only $75,000 including a $18,350 trailer parked at the home of D’Aminco and McClure. Authorities say the title was placed in McClure’s name and was sold after Bobbitt left the residence.

“All donors who contributed to this GoFundMe campaign will receive a full refund,” said Bobby Whithorne of the online fundraising company. “We are fully cooperating and assisting law enforcement officials to recover every dollar withdrawn by Ms. McClure and Mr. D’Amico.”

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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