Maybe Johnny Bobbitt Jr. should invest in an E-ZPass.
For the second time in a little over a month, a Philadelphia judge sent the formerly homeless veteran back across the Delaware River to New Jersey to face charges stemming from his alleged participation in a now-infamous $400,000 GoFundMe scam.
Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner on Tuesday granted extradition to the Garden State, where Bobbitt, 35, will answer charges that he violated the conditions of his release from jail while awaiting trial. The judge also ordered that Bobbitt be returned to the Burlington County Jail.
Bobbitt’s attorney, Jordan Barnett of the Defender Association of Philadelphia, reminded his client in court that if he failed to appear again for any proceedings in New Jersey, it “could put us back in the same situation.”
Bobbitt, who appeared in court in tattered whitewashed jeans and a drab olive sweater with a hole toward the bottom, was arrested by Philadelphia police in Fishtown on Jan. 9. after a New Jersey judge ordered him to be picked up for skipping a hearing in the GoFundMe case.
Last month, a Superior Court judge in Mount Holly ordered Bobbitt to stay drug-free; attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings; provide the court with his address, a copy of his lease, and proof of efforts to find employment; and check in with pretrial staff to provide urine tests and updates.
At another hearing, “indications” surfaced that Bobbitt was using drugs and had failed to report to court officials three days after his release on bail. He didn’t show up for a hearing on Jan. 8, despite his public defender’s expecting him to attend.
Bobbitt is accused of manufacturing a Good Samaritan narrative along with two accomplices that fooled well-meaning donors out of nearly $403,000 in 2017 and 2018. GoFundMe said it has refunded all donations.
He was charged with conspiracy, fraud, and theft by deception.
He and his alleged coconspirators, Mark D’Amico and Katelyn McClure, a former couple who lived in Florence, Burlington County, are accused of fabricating a story in which they claimed that Bobbitt gave McClure his last $20 after she ran out of gasoline while driving near where he was panhandling in Philadelphia in October 2017.
D’Amico and McClure have been released and are awaiting trial.
In New Jersey, Bobbitt was recently accepted into drug court, a diversionary program that allows nonviolent drug addicts to plead guilty to some charges, and receive intensive rehabilitation and monitoring instead of criminal prosecution.
As Bobbitt left the courtroom, Lerner added: “Good luck to you, Mr. Bobbitt.”