Alleged Homeless GFM Scam Artist Arrested After Missing Court Date Over Donations Used For Casino Trips

Posted on: January 11, 2019, 05:00h. 

Last updated on: January 11, 2019, 08:06h.

Johnny Bobbitt, the homeless veteran who gained infamy by allegedly conspiring with a New Jersey couple to defraud donors via a GoFundMe campaign, was arrested on Wednesday after failing to show up for a scheduled court date.

Johnny Bobbitt court appearance
Johnny Bobbitt was arrested after missing a court appearance related to the theft charges against him and the couple who set up a GoFundMe account that raised $400,000. (Image: David Swanson/Philadelphia Inquirer)

Bobbitt, along with Katelyn McClure and her then-boyfriend Mark D’Amico, raised more $400,000 on GoFundMe that prosecutors say was used for trips to casinos and purchasing luxury items.

Touching Story Goes Viral

The saga began in 2017, when the three created a story about Bobbitt giving McClure his last $20 for gas when she was stranded on the road in Philadelphia. McClure and D’Amico then created a GoFundMe account that attracted more than 14,000 people who donated a total of $402,706.

The story went viral, with McClure and Bobbitt both making television appearances and being interviewed by media outlets worldwide. According to them and D’Amico, the couple had agreed to purchase a new house and a truck for Bobbitt, along with a computer, clothes, and a cell phone, as well as set up trusts in his benefit and hire a financial adviser to help him settle into his new life.

But by April 2018, the story no longer sounded quite as inspiring. Rather than a house, Bobbitt told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he had received (by request) a camper that was parked on a plot of land near the house where the couple lived. Bobbitt admitted to using some of his money to buy drugs, and the couple said they were rationing his money for him.

At the time, all three still maintained that the goal was to help Bobbitt get back on his feet.

“I’m 35 years old. I haven’t always been a drug addict,” Bobbitt told the Inquirer. “At some point, people have to put trust in me.”

A Work of Fiction Falls Apart

By September, the narrative had changed again. Bobbitt was now a victim, he said, and GoFundMe had agreed to make sure he would receive all of the money raised, even though McClure and D’Amico had supposedly squandered it.

That led to an investigation by the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office. But rather than finding the Bobbitt had been victimized, prosecutors ultimately found that he had conspired with the couple.

The entire campaign was predicated on a lie,” prosecutor Scott Coffina told the Associated Press in November. “It was fictitious and illegal and there are consequences.”

Prosecutors say that the couple had known Bobbitt for at least a month before they went public with the story, having met him during trips to a nearby casino. It is alleged that the couple used the bulk of the money for yet more gambling, along with vacations, debt repayment, and a luxury car, among other personal expenses.

The three were charged with theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft by deception.

Bobbitt was released on bail last month, on the condition that he consent to electronic monitoring, attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and look for a job. According to Judge Mark Tarantino, Bobbitt hadn’t been in touch with court officers since Dec. 17, and may be accepted into a diversionary drug court pending a hearing later this month.

If That Name Sounds Familiar…

This isn’t the first time that a John Bobbitt has gained widespread notoriety. The Johnny in this story, however, is not the same man as the John Wayne Bobbitt who made headlines in 1993 when his wife, Lorena Bobbitt, cut of his penis while he was asleep in bed, later accusing her husband of abuse and rape. John’s genitalia was later found and surgically re-attached.

Lorena was ultimately found not guilty due to insanity, while John was acquitted of a rape charge. John has found his way in and out of the spotlight in the years since, most recently after dedicating himself to the hunt for a treasure hidden in the Rocky Mountains by author Forrest Fenn.