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Johnny Bobbitt to return to New Jersey to face charges in GoFundMe scam

Johnny Bobbitt talks about what his life was like while homeless in Philadelphia. (David Swanson/Philly.com/TNS)

Johnny Bobbitt settled outstanding drug charges in Philadelphia Monday, clearing the last hurdle on his road to New Jersey to face the consequences on charges of defrauding more than 14,000 donors who contributed over $400,000 to his fabricated GoFundMe campaign.

Bobbitt, 35, who appeared before Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Wendy L. Pew wearing a T-shirt featuring the phrase “Explore the Outdoors,” was found in violation of his probation on three misdemeanor drug possession convictions from July 2017. If not for those cases, he would have been sent to New Jersey last week, when he waived his right to an extradition hearing.

Pew re-sentenced Bobbitt to one year’s probation, combining his punishment in the three cases into one yearlong sentence. While on probation, he must prove that he is staying off drugs.

The formerly homeless Bobbitt, who said he now rents an apartment blocks away from Frankford Avenue’s trendy bar-and-restaurant corridor in Fishtown, has been held at the Detention Center on State Road since his Nov. 14 arrest on charges of fraud, theft by deception and conspiracy. He was expected to be transferred to Burlington County as early as Monday afternoon.

The other two defendants in the fraud case, Kate McClure and Mark D’Amico, are free on bail while awaiting trial. Their next court appearance is Dec. 24 in Superior Court in Burlington County.

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McClure, D’Amico and Bobbitt are accused of fabricating a narrative that the then-homeless Bobbitt spent his last $20 to help McClure after she ran out of gas on I-95 in Philadelphia. McClure and D’Amico, in turn, set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to get Bobbitt off the streets. The fundraising effort, which had an initial goal of $10,000, was wildly successful, attracting thousands of donations from across the country and beyond. And the Good Samaritan story went viral, as Bobbitt and the couple appeared on national television.

But in the end, prosecutors say, it was all a scam. The three concocted the story to prey on the sympathy of donors, authorities said. McClure and D’Amico spent much of the money on vacations, gambling excursions and luxury handbags, authorities said. Bobbitt, too, spent tens of thousands, prosecutors say, some of it on drugs.

All donations to the GoFundMe campaign, created in November 2017, have since been refunded, a GoFundMe spokesman said.

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© 2018 Philly.com

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