Mark D’Amico, the former South Jersey man federally charged last week on additional offenses in the GoFundMe scam that raised more than $400,000 purportedly to benefit homeless veteran Johnny Bobbitt Jr., pleaded not guilty Thursday to new federal fraud and money-laundering offenses during an appearance in Camden.
“We will fight” the charges and go to trial, his lawyer, Mark Davis, said as he and D’Amico waited in the third-floor hallway before the hearing.
“Never plea,” said D’Amico, 40, formerly of Bordentown.
D’Amico was first charged federally in October and pleaded not guilty to one count each of conspiring to commit wire fraud and conspiring to commit money laundering. Last week, a federal grand jury indicted him on the two conspiracy charges plus counts of wire fraud and money laundering.
On Thursday, Davis pleaded not guilty on his client’s behalf before U.S. District Judge Noel Hillman on the 16 indicted charges. D’Amico faces a maximum sentence of 260 years behind bars.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Bender told Hillman the lawyers are looking at a possible October trial date.
In December, D’Amico pleaded guilty in Burlington County Superior Court to a state felony charge of misapplication of entrusted property in the GoFundMe scam. His sentencing on the state charge was deferred until the outcome of his federal case.
Asked after Thursday’s hearings why he had pleaded guilty in Superior Court, D’Amico, who said he moved to Philadelphia last year, explained: “Trials are expensive.” Davis is representing him as a private attorney in the state case but is a court-appointed attorney for him in the federal case.
Under agreement with county prosecutors, D’Amico’s state sentence would run concurrently with whatever sentence he may receive in his federal case.
D’Amico is accused of conspiring in 2017 with his former girlfriend, Katelyn McClure, to create the GoFundMe account with a fake feel-good story about how the homeless Bobbitt gave his last $20 to McClure when she ran out of gas on the Girard Avenue exit ramp of I-95 in Philadelphia.
The account, supposedly to help Bobbitt, a Marine veteran, went viral and drew 14,000 donors. Bobbitt got some money, but D’Amico and McClure allegedly went on a spending spree with the rest, buying a BMW and expensive handbags, taking vacations, and gambling, authorities said.
After the scam was exposed, GoFundMe said it would reimburse all the donors. D’Amico, McClure, and Bobbitt are supposed to repay the crowdfunding company.
McClure’s attorney, James Gerrow, has alleged that D’Amico was the mastermind behind the scam and said McClure was an unwitting accomplice. D’Amico has denied the claim.
McClure, 29, of Burlington County, and Bobbitt, 36, of Philadelphia, have pleaded guilty in federal and state court to charges related to the scam. They await sentencing in federal court, and McClure also awaits sentencing in Superior Court.