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Johnny Bobbitt saga: From feel-good story to criminal charges

A GoFundMe campaign built on a lie: A chronology of the heartwarming story turned criminal.

Johnny Bobbitt Jr., left, Kate McClure, right, and Mark D'Amico pose at a Citgo station were they claimed Bobbitt purchased gas for McClure's stranded car.
Johnny Bobbitt Jr., left, Kate McClure, right, and Mark D'Amico pose at a Citgo station were they claimed Bobbitt purchased gas for McClure's stranded car.Read moreELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer

A chronology of the GoFundMe campaign set up by Kate McClure and Mark D'Amico for Johnny Bobbitt Jr., based on the indictment by the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office and contemporary news reports.


Oct. 16: Kate McClure, 27, texts boyfriend Mark D'Amico about Johnny Bobbitt Jr., a homeless man they had known for at least a month from frequent trips to SugarHouse Casino. "IDK why but that homeless guy by sugarhouse keeps popping in my damn head today." D'Amico responds: "Dude I just thought about him!!" The exchange continues with them both wanting to help Bobbitt by providing him with food, clothes, the possibility of a job, and perhaps a house. McClure is a New Jersey Transportation Department receptionist who earned $37,548 in 2016. D'Amico is a carpenter who last filed state taxes for 2015, listing income of $15,417.

Nov. 10: At 5:42 p.m., D'Amico takes a photo of McClure and Bobbitt in front of the Girard Avenue off ramp of I-95. By 6:35, McClure and D'Amico use the photo as the face of a "Paying It Forward" GoFundMe campaign with a goal of raising $10,000 to help Bobbitt. The campaign is based on a false narrative: that McClure ran out of gas on the highway and was saved by Bobbitt, who used his last $20 to buy her gas.

At 7:25, McClure texts her best friend, admitting that the "gas story" is a fabrication. "Okay so wait the gas part is completely made up … But the guy isn't … I had to make something up to make people feel bad … So, shush about the made up part."

Nov. 13: McClure and D'Amico text each other about McClure's mother's being suspicious about the "gas story," which they admit is not true. D'Amico describes it as just "a little lie."

Nov. 15: The Burlington County Times publishes a story on the GoFundMe drive. McClure's best friend texts her, "… This gas story is gonna backfire lmfao" The friend tells McClure that Bobbitt would be interviewed about the incident, "But you need to tell him first. Make sure he knows"

Later that evening, McClure and D'Amico meet Bobbitt in Philadelphia, near where Bobbitt was living. They record a video of Bobbitt's reaction to the newspaper story. Bobbitt says the money would "change his life." McClure publishes the video to YouTube, where it goes viral.

Nov. 24: By the day after Thanksgiving, the fund has raised more than $300,000 from 11,000 donors.

Nov. 26: Bobbitt and McClure appear together on Good Morning America.

Dec. 4: McClure purchases a trailer for Bobbitt for $18,350 with funds from the GoFundMe campaign, but titles the trailer in her name. Bobbitt moves into the trailer, which is parked at McClure's and D'Amico's residence in Florence Township.

Late November through early December: McClure and D'Amico pay off family debts: $900 to a member of McClure's family, and $8,900 to members of D'Amico's family. The combined total of $9,800 is near the original $10,000 GoFundMe goal.

Dec. 8: The fund surpasses $400,000 and no more donations are accepted.

Dec. 9: McClure and D'Amico have conversations with a literary agent about a book and movie deal.

Dec. 12: McClure receives the last of the net payouts from GoFundMe, which total $367,108.81.

Dec. 27: Bobbitt opens a bank account with a $25,000 deposit from McClure's primary bank account. A total of $31,622.87 is deposited in this account through March 2018. Bobbitt makes cash withdrawals of $23,644.85 within approximately three months, all in the same Philadelphia neighborhood where he was living while homeless.


Feb. 21: McClure purchases a 2015 BMW for $24,432.

March 9: McClure texts D'Amico: "I can't believe we have less than 10K left. I'm so upset now" D'Amico tells McClure not to worry, referring to eventually receiving money from the book deal.

March 19: During a lengthy text exchange, D'Amico asks McClure whether they should cancel the warranty on the BMW, because, "We're gonna need all money we can get for now." McClure texts D'Amico: "All you need to do is start working. At your real job. … Once you do that, we'll be fine." D'Amico acknowledges not doing any home-improvement work since November.

April 13: The Inquirer and Daily News report that Bobbitt is still struggling with an addiction to opioids and is in his second recent stint in rehab. He is jobless, and a truck he bought with money from the fund is idle and in need of repair.

June 11: McClure sells the trailer for $10,000 and Bobbitt moves out.

Aug. 10: Bobbitt tells D'Amico on Facebook messenger: "We should really talk about things. There has been a lot of people asking questions and i really don't know what to say. We [Bobbitt and his brother] really should get out of here before things go public."

Aug. 15-23: Numerous electronic messages are exchanged among McClure, D'Amico, and Bobbitt. They discuss a reporter questioning the GoFundMe campaign, since Bobbitt was panhandling again. McClure messages others about her anxiety over the situation, and her plans with D'Amico to get Bobbitt out of the Philadelphia area.

Aug. 23: The Inquirer and Daily News report that Bobbitt is homeless again and cut off from the fund. McClure and D'Amico say they've spent or given him more than half of the money. Bobbitt says he fears that the couple squandered much of the money on such things as a BMW and vacations to California, Florida, and Nevada.

Aug. 27: McClure and D'Amico are interviewed on Megyn Kelly Today. D'Amico says "well over" $150,000 was still available for Bobbitt, but the couple would not give him the money directly because of his drug use.

Aug. 28: A law firm representing Bobbitt pro bono goes to court in Burlington County against McClure and D'Amico, seeking an injunction and monetary relief.

Aug. 30: Superior Court Judge Paula T. Dow gives McClure and D'Amico 24 hours to transfer the money into an escrow account and 10 days to hire a forensic accountant to review the financial records. The deadline passes without any funds being transferred.

Aug. 31: In a television interview, Bobbitt says, "I wish it didn't come to this," and calls D'Amico "a self-described gambling addict."

Sept. 2: McClure records a conversation with D’Amico in which she says she feels as if she is going to take the fall because her name was on everything, and is concerned about going to jail. D’Amico replies: “You don’t go to jail for lying on TV.” The conversation turns to the expenditures they made. D’Amico says, “Twenty thousand, BMW. Five thousand, Disney. Ten thousand in bags. We both went to Vegas, right? Huh? How much did you spend in Cali? Twenty-five hundred? Probably broke even on that one getting thirty-seven hundred. So just right there is forty thousand. Now you wanna talk about everything else? Like you act like you didn’t spend a dollar.”

Sept. 4: Chris Fallon, a lawyer for Bobbitt, says he learned the money is missing during a conference call with lawyers for McClure and D'Amico.

Sept. 6: The Burlington County Prosecutor's Office obtains and executes a search warrant at the home shared by McClure and D'Amico in Florence Township. Hours later, GoFundMe announces it will pay Bobbitt any money he did not receive from the original $400,000.

Sept. 18: At a court appearance for minor traffic offenses, D'Amico says he looks forward to explaining what happened to the money, saying it would become "crystal clear" how the funds were spent.

Nov. 15: Bobbitt, McClure, and D'Amico are arrested and charged with second-degree theft by deception and second-degree conspiracy to commit theft by deception. "The entire campaign was predicated on a lie," says Prosecutor Scott A. Coffina.


March 6: Bobbitt pleads guilty in U.S. District Court in Camden to charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering. McClure pleads guilty to wire fraud.

— Compiled by John Duchneskie and Joseph A. Gambardello

A GoFundMe-Fueled Spending Spree

Some of the expenditures made by McClure and D'Amico included:

  1. 2015 BMW purchased for $24,432

  2. Trip to Las Vegas, including a Grand Canyon helicopter tour

  3. Trip to Disneyland in California

  4. Trip to Disney World in Florida

  5. Several trips to New York City

  6. 12 designer handbags, with labels from Louis Vuitton, Coach, Michael Kors, and Vera Bradley, valued collectively at $11,451 Cryptocurrency purchases of $12,752

  7. Extensive casino play. The search of McClure's and D'Amico's residence yielded casino cash-out slips from Aria Casino in Las Vegas along with chips from Live! Casino in Maryland and Bally's Park Place in Atlantic City. Investigators also found player cards in McClure's and D'Amico's names from Parx, SugarHouse, Caesars, Bellagio in Las Vegas, Borgata, and Tropicana

  8. Cash withdrawals of $85,363 at or in the immediate vicinity of casinos in Atlantic City, Bensalem, Philadelphia, and Las Vegas