Philadelphia police arrested Johnny Bobbitt Wednesday morning after a New Jersey judge ordered him picked up for skipping a court hearing in a $400,000 GoFundMe scam case.
Bobbitt, a formerly homeless veteran accused of fabricating a feel-good story with two co-conspirators that bilked donors out of nearly $403,000 last year, was arrested at 10:45 a.m. in Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood near where he had been living while he was awaiting trial, according to police sources.
Joel Bewley, a spokesman for the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, said Bobbitt will be extradited to New Jersey to answer to charges he violated the conditions of his release from jail while awaiting trial. Bewley said he had no other details of the arrest.
When Bobbitt was first charged with fraud in the GoFundMe scheme in November, he was arrested at a home in the 1200 block of Shackamaxon Street, according to the warrant. It’s not clear if that was where he was arrested Wednesday.
At a hearing last month in Mount Holly, N.J., Superior Court Judge Mark Tarantino had ordered Bobbitt to stay drug-free, attend Narcotics Anonymous hearings, provide the court with his address, a copy of his lease and proof of efforts to find employment, and to check in with pretrial staff to provide urine tests and updates.
Then on Tuesday, Tarantino held another hearing and said there were “indications” that Bobbitt was using drugs again and that he last reported to court officials on Dec. 17, three days after his release. Bobbitt didn’t show up Tuesday, and his public defender, John Keesler, said he hoped that he didn’t have a problem getting from Philadelphia to Mount Holly on public transportation.
Keesler also said that he last spoke to Bobbitt on Friday and had expected him to make the hearing.
Bobbitt, 35, is charged with conspiracy, fraud, and theft by deception. He and his co-conspirators, Mark D’Amico and Kate McClure, a former Florence, N.J., couple, are accused of fabricating a story in which they claimed that Bobbitt gave McClure his last $20 to purchase gas for her when she ran out of it on I-95 in Philadelphia, near where he was panhandling, in October 2017.
D’Amico and McClure have also been released pending trial.
Bobbitt was recently accepted into Drug Court, a diversionary program that allows non-violent drug addicts to plead guilty to some charges and to receive intensive rehabilitation and monitoring instead of criminal prosecution.
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