Mark D'Amico, accused of creating the false GoFundMe account to help homeless veteran Johnny Bobbitt Jr., appeared Monday before a Florence Township Municipal Court judge to face a criminal charge that he is illegally living in the home he once shared with Kate McClure, his former girlfriend and his co-defendant in the donation scam.
"I am not trespassing," said a soft-spoken and sullen D'Amico, 39, who appeared in court wearing a black North Face jacket, wrinkled work pants, and tattered tan boots.
McClure's grandmother, Leslie A. DeAngelo, identified herself as the landlord when she filed a complaint on Nov. 7 to evict D'Amico. He told the judge Monday that he wanted to settle the issue with the prosecutor. In the meantime, D'Amico said, his mail should be sent to the Florence house.
Judge Corey Ahart rescheduled the hearing for Dec. 17, giving D'Amico time to resolve the charges or return to court. The judge also noted that D'Amico has outstanding charges of driving with a suspended license that could be addressed at the hearing as well. Those charges, D'Amico said, have been resolved.
The once-confident and media-friendly D'Amico, who last year appeared on national news shows to promote the scheme with Bobbitt and McClure, shied away from reporters on Monday, saying little about the allegations that the trio scammed donors. The couple painted Bobbitt as a Good Samaritan who gave his last $20 to McClure after she ran out of gas on I-95 in Philadelphia. The story was fabricated, prosecutors say, and authorities charged the three this month with theft and related offenses.
McClure and D'Amico are free on bail. Bobbitt is in a Philadelphia jail awaiting an extradition hearing.
"I didn't steal from him," D'Amico said Monday of Bobbitt, who sued the couple in August, alleging they had squandered most of more than $400,000 raised a year ago on buying a BMW, taking elaborate vacations, and gambling. The couple, in turn, alleged that Bobbitt blew through much of the money, including using some to buy drugs.
Prosecutors in Burlington County say the three concocted the story to prey on the emotions of donors, who gave generously to help get Bobbitt off the street and turn his life around. Prosecutors say the trio agreed to share the money, but then began bickering about how to split it.
A GoFundMe spokesman said on Monday that all donors had received refunds.
As the trio's close bond deteriorated and they publicly blamed one another, McClure and D'Amico split up. She moved out of the small house they shared on Cedar Lane Extension in rural Florence.
After Monday's hearing, D'Amico said he will move out, but did not specify when. He dismissed as "nonsense" allegations he is there illegally.
In her complaint, which charges D'Amico with trespassing, DeAngelo said D'Amico was given notice on Oct. 2 that the month-to-month lease was terminated and he had to leave immediately. DeAngelo said D'Amico responded that he would be out by Nov. 1. He then refused to leave.
D'Amico missed a previously scheduled hearing earlier this month on the eviction notice.
McClure and her attorney say that D'Amico and Bobbitt created the scam and that she believed she was helping Bobbitt. However, in text messages detailed in court documents released this month, McClure wrote to a friend that the story was made up to make people feel sorry for Bobbitt.
D'Amico, who in August told an Inquirer and Daily News reporter that he would "do anything" to protect McClure, said Monday he would not respond to McClure's recent allegations that he masterminded the plan and was abusive in the relationship.
"I'm not going to stoop to that," D'Amico said while waiting for his ride after the hearing. "The truth will come out. It always does."