The world as a whole was left awestruck when news of one homeless veteran’s selfless act went viral. Faith in humanity was boosted as people read about a down and out Johnny Bobbitt Jr. giving his last $20 to a woman stranded on the side of Jersey road. However, this feel good story would come with a plot twist that would result in scandal and cover-ups.
In The Middle Of Nowhere
It was a cold November night in 2017 when Kate McClure found herself speeding home on New Jersey’s interstate 95 after a fun night out with friends. While she was low on gas, she assumed the tank was full enough to get her home. However, her nonchalance quickly turned to worry, as her gas light switched on.
Kate’s only option was to pull over to the side of the dark highway near a sketchy part of town. With that done, she had to get out of her car and look for a nearby gas station. Just when things looked like they couldn’t get any worse, she became even more disconverted as something, or someone, began approaching her.
Emerging From The Shadows
Her worry turned into panic, as what looked like a homeless man emerged from the shadows and sluggishly began moving in her direction. To add to her fear, she could hear him mumbling something under his breath. It especially made her uneasy that she had no cash on her, as she assumed he’d want some spare change.
Despite the disheveled stranger approaching her, Kate kept her cool and remained by her car. She wasn’t about to barricade herself in the vehicle and weep. Before she knew it, the man had reached Kate. At that moment, the hooded homeless man did something she wasn’t expecting.
An Unexpected Exchange
As the homeless man slowly approached her, Kate backed into her car and found herself pinned between her vehicle and the strange man. At that point, he began talking very gently to her and asked her what was wrong. At that moment, Kate looked into his eyes and saw only softness and compassion.
She explained to him that she had ran out of gas and that she’d be moving on very soon. The homeless man assured Kate that she’d be fine and told her to get back into the car, lock the doors and stay put. The man then walked off into the distance. After about 10 minutes, he returned and Kate’s eyes widened when she saw what was in his hand.
What Started Innocently Enough
As it turned out, the man had gone to a nearby gas station and spent his last $20 on a can of gas. Kate thanked him, but didn’t have the money to pay him back. However, he did not seem to mind the lack of compensation. The two just said bye and parted ways. But for Kate, this homeless man was hard to forget. Throughout the night, she couldn’t help but think about the man who had selflessly saved her life.
Once home, she told her boyfriend Mark D’Amico about the homeless man and the two decided they wanted to find him and pay him back. They drove by the same highway multiple times before eventually spotting him again. But what had started as a seemingly innocent encounter, would soon turn into something that’d make headlines across the world.
Not A One-Off Encounter
After finding him to repay him that first night, the couple began seeking him out on a regular basis and eventually even built a friendship. Every time they met with him, they would give him money and gift cards. The man who went by the name of Johnny Bobbitt Jr. soon became a normal part of their life. As the couple got closer to him, it became apparent that his story was anything but ordinary.
Despite begging on the streets of Philadelphia, Bobbitt originally hailed from a small town in North Carolina. Like many others, his quaint life changed drastically after 9/11. He immediately joined the Marine Corps with the hope of serving his country in the fight against terror. While many served overseas, Bobbitt served on the home front. He worked as an ammunition technician and paramedic. However, his military career ended after 14 months. From that point on, his life began heading down an increasingly difficult path.
Slipping Down A Dark Path
Following his discharge from the military after a little over a year of service, Bobbitt had a very hard time adapting back to civilian life. One of his biggest problems was that he just couldn’t hold down a job. This resulted in Bobbitt jumping from state to state trying to find a stable opportunity.
His low success rate saw him slip into a crippling depression. As a way to keep his mood up, Bobbitt turned to illegal substances. Despite his growing problem, he turned his sights to secure a job opportunity in Philadelphia. However, that promise of a good job would soon find Bobbitt living outside of society.
Adapting To Life On The Streets
Sadly, the job fell through for Bobbitt and his savings dwindled due to his addiction. This resulted in Bobbitt being homeless in a city that was very far away from his home in North Carolina. Things only got worse for him when he lost all of his forms of identification.
Bobbitt had been homeless for a year and a half by the time he met Kate on the side of that road that fated night. Ultimately, what touched Kate and her boyfriend Mark the most was that Bobbitt still had dreams despite his personal situation. The young couple would find themselves talking about Bobbitt often and decided upon a plan to make his dreams come true.
Making A Public Appeal
In an effort to get Bobbitt back on his feet, Mark and Kate decided to launch a GoFundMe campaign for him. This way, they hoped, he’d be able to receive funds from various individuals from all around the world. They posted Bobbitt’s touching story and set an ambitious goal of raising $10,000 for him.
At best, they were hoping that the goal would allow him to muster up enough to rent out a place for a couple months and give him time to look for a job and get his identification forms in order. They felt confident that their appeal would touch a few souls, but it quickly led to an unexpected outcome for Bobbitt.
From Rags to Riches
Wanting the message to spread to as many people as possible, Kate and Mark did their best to share it all over the Internet. Just as they had hoped, the campaign was a hit and the money came flowing in. Within the span of a single week, they were able to raise $5,000 for Bobbitt.
From there, it quickly climbed to an astounding $10,000. The couple was beyond excited. They had set a goal and had reached it within just a couple weeks. Despite reaching their initial benchmark, the money kept coming in and they soon found themselves as custodians of hundreds of thousands of dollars. From that point on, however, the lives of these three individuals would change forever.
Becoming International News Sensations
As gobs of money continuously flowed into their GoFundMe account, the news media turned its attention to the online commotion surrounding Bobbitt and the couple. Soon they had pictures of Bobbitt and McClure all over the web. From CNN to TIME and The Telegraph, the story exploded from a local news story to coverage by some of the country’s, and world’s, biggest media outlets.
The touching account of the former Marine’s hardship and the way he swooped into Kate’s rescue apparently spoke to the masses. The three of them were all regarded as heroes. With the money and media attention, the homeless Bobbitt began going through some instant changes. Within the span of a week, he appeared to be a completely different person.
Transitioning Back Into Society
Once the dollars came flowing in, Bobbitt was able to clean himself up very nicely. He bought himself a camper trailer that Kate let him cement onto her family’s property in Florence, New Jersey. He also got back all of his forms of identification, bought a used truck and even began working on trying to get a job at a warehouse.
His ambitions didn’t end there. Bobbitt also wanted to study to become a licensed paramedic in the New Jersey area. He couldn’t think of anything better than having a line of work that allowed him to help others. While Bobbitt seemed to be thriving, there was something that had a lot of people scratching their heads.
Questions Over The Money Flow
Bobbitt’s GoFundMe campaign eventually raised more then $400,000. If he was responsible with those funds, he’d be able to live comfortably for a very long time. However, Bobbitt wasn’t able to freely dip into this money whenever he pleased. When the former Marine wanted anything, he’d have to get permission from Mark and Kate.
The couple had control over all of his funds. In the beginning, they said it was due to Bobbitt not having a bank account to put the money into. Once he did, they said that before giving it all to Bobbitt, they wanted to make sure that he was on the straight and narrow path. To sway any concern that the masses may have had, they assured everyone that the money was all going toward his food and rent. However, their financial underpinnings would reveal something less wholesome.
Friends Turned Enemies
The image Kate and MaRk kept up on social media was incredibly different from what was actually going on behind the scenes. While the world saw them throwing costume parties and having Bobbitt over for Christmas, there was actually a lot of tension building between them.
Bobbitt had become disillusioned with his life in the camper and had big plans for getting a job in Montana and living with his brother. But he couldn’t make it happen because Kate and Mark wouldn’t part with the cash they’d raised for him. With that, he decided to take the couple to court, claiming that they were instead using his money to go on fancy vacations and buy new vehicles. As the accusations abound, so too did the account of trio become more and more peculiar.
Conflicting Narratives Raising Brows
Kate and Mark gave a different side of the story. It was on the popular morning talk show Megyn Kelly Today that Mark claimed he’d never used any of Bobbitt’s money apart for $500 that he used at a casino. In that specific cae, he said he’d sought permission to use it and paid it back.
He also claimed that Bobbitt was not off illegal substances and that the minute they put some money into his bank account, it went straight to fuelling his addiction. Furthermore, Mark stated that he would rather burn all the money then give it to Bobbitt in his current state. As it would turn out, none of these claims would add up.
Who Spent What?
The budding relationship between Bobbitt and the couple quickly turned into a battle between their lawyers. Back and forth, the outrageous claims and slander were exchanged between the two parties. During an interview with NBC News, Bobbitt’s lawyer reported that his client had only seen about $75,000 of the GoFundMe donations.
All the while, Kate and Mark’s lawyer, Ernest Bradway, struck back charging that Bobbitt had already spent $200,000 of the money. However, looking at Bobbitt’s possessions, none of this really added up. Amid the legal brawl, Mark would take a cheap shot at Bobbitt which would completely turn the tide.
Back On The Street
When it came to the funds, one of Bobbitt’s biggest purchases had been the camper trailer that Kate had cemented onto her family’s property. Not long after the legal proceedings started, Kate told Bobbitt that he was no longer welcome to live on the property.
Bobbitt had no choice but to leave all his possessions behind and return back to living on the streets of Philadelphia. As his life seemed to have gone full circle, Bobbitt began to fear that he’d never see any of his money ever again. With Bobbitt out of the way, most would likely assume that Kate and Mark were celebrating. However, their problems were far from over. The couple would soon find themselves in a bind of their own.
The Police Raid The Exposed The Truth
Thinking that everything would be smooth sailing now that Bobbitt was out of the way, Kate McClure and Mark D’Amico would have never expected what was to come. On a seemingly normal September morning in 2018, the couple got an extremely rude awakening, as a squadron of police raided their Florence, New Jersey home.
The police left the scene with the couple’s personal and business financial statements, flashy jewelry and a bulk of cash. To top things off, they also towed away Mark’s brand new BMW. Seeing as Mark worked as a carpenter, the life of luxury surrounding them was extremely suspicious. After the raid, Bobbitt supporters felt that real justice had been served. However, a shocking revelation was about to have them second guessing themselves.
Playing The People For Fools
Amid Bobbitt and the couple’s legal stand off, the truth finally reared its head and presented something truly ugly. Scott Coffina, the Burlington County Prosecutor revealed that the entirety of the account Kate, Mark and Bobbitt had put forward to the public was not at all what it seemed.
In fact, it turned out that the touching story their fundraised was based had largely been fabricated by the trio in an effort to scam the people. The news made waves among donors and Bobbitt supporters alike. The tides had officially turned for the three once-beloved individuals. With the revelation of their background story emerging as pure fiction, it begged the question just how far had they stretched the truth?
In The Beginning
The account involving the three didn’t actually being with a good deed on a dark Jersey highway, but at a Fishtown casino called SugarHouse. Then 39-year-old Mark had an addiction to gambling and would frequent casino often with his girlfriend, Kate. It was during their time there that they’d often run into Bobbitt at a nearby freeway ramp.
Like the rest of the world, they were immediately taken by him. He had a rich Southern accent and all the charms of someone who came from a good home. After so many run-ins, they formed something of a friendship with the man and would often give him money and coffee. At some point, that didn’t seem like enough and the three of them hatched up a plan together that’d be able to change Bobbitt’s life forever.
The Makings Behind Their Master Plan
On November 10, 2017, Mark took a photograph of Kate and Bobbitt standing together by the freeway ramp where he supposedly rescued her during her time of need. Within an hour of that picture being taken, they launched the GoFundMe campaign for Bobbitt.
The campaign featured the picture of a smiling McClure standing next to a scruffy looking Bobbitt, along with the fabricated story of him rescuing her on the side of the road. While, at first, everything seemed to be going smoothly and money continuously trickled in, one of Kate’s friends found the whole thing rather suspicious and here is why.
Why Didn’t She Do The Obvious?
Kate just happened to have a friend who lived very close to the highway ramp in the picture. Once this friend read about the story, she immediately texted Kate asking why she didn’t just call her when she’d ran out of gas on the highway. She literally could have walked over to help her. That’s when Kate openly admitted to her that it was a lie.
She apparently told the friend that the whole story was a lie to make people feel bad for Bobbitt. She further told her friend to hush up about it and not tell anyone. When the story went viral, Kate’s own family began to suspect her story was a fabrication. Her own mom warned that if the story wasn’t true, she could get arrested, but the young lady threw caution to the wind. In the beginning, they planned for all the funds to go to Bobbitt, but everything soon changed.
Grand Shopping Sprees
Once Kate and Mark saw that the GoFundMe account was bringing in thousands upon thousands of dollars for Bobbitt, they began wanting a piece of that action. The couple eventually gave into their impulses and went on a spending spree straight out of a movie.
They took trips to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Florida, they went to Disneyland, bought a BMW, went of lavish shopping trips and saw an array of Broadway shows. While they gave Bobbitt $31,00 of the funds raised, the couple went on to spend $200,300 of it. While it seemed that the cashflow would never end, they soon found that their greed was getting the better of them.
Financial Woes Arose
Between November 2017 and September 2018, the couple managed to burn through nearly all of the money. In a panic, Mark began pawning off a number of recently bought possessions. He got rid of a slew of fancy watches, a laptop, a video game system and even Bobbitt’s camper. Text messages sent between the couple that were presented in court showed that they were broke.
In one text, Kate had told Mark that they only had $10,000 left. Amid their dwindling financial situation, the couple had started growing weary of Bobbitt, who had gone to rehab and relapsed several times and continually asked about the money. To top things off, Bobbitt had grown paranoid that people would find out about their scam and wanted to move to Montana with his brother and start anew. Seeing as the couple wouldn’t allow this, Bobbitt took drastic measures.
The End Of The Road
When Bobbitt realized that he wouldn’t get the funds to move to Montana, he became all the more frustrated. That’s when he decided to take the couple to court. However, this move would only serve to blow up in all three of their faces and expose what everyone thought was their heartwarming story for the lie that it really was.
Kate, Mark and Bobbitt were all arrested and suspected of theft by deception. The crimes that they were being charged with could have easily landed them all in prison for a decade. As the three sat at their trial, though, things took an unsuspecting turn.
The Final Ruling
While Kate And Mark had stuck together for this long, Kate quickly switched sides and with Bobbitt agreed to testify against her boyfriend for lesser charge. Mark D’Amico pleaded innocent of all six charges against him. But ultimately, he was found guilty and could spend up to 20 years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for late 2019.
Kate McClure pleaded guilty to one count of theft by deception in the second degree. Bobbitt likewise followed and also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit theft by deception. Due to the plea deal, Kate will only need to serve up to four years in jail. All the while, Bobbitt got off with five years of special probation and having to take part in a mandatory long-term live-in substance rehabilitation program.
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