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Alleged ringleader in $400,000 GoFundMe scam pleads not guilty to federal charges

Homeless vet, couple allegedly made up story

A New Jersey man who authorities said was the ringleader in a scheme that raised more than $400,000 with a bogus tale involving a homeless veteran rescuing a woman from the side of a highway pleaded not guilty Thursday to federal charges. Mark D'Amico appeared in court in Camden to face an indictment handed up last week that charges the 40-year-old with a total of 16 counts of conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering.

D'Amico, former girlfriend Katelyn McClure and homeless vet Johnny Bobbitt have already pleaded guilty in state court, and McClure and Bobbitt have pleaded guilty to federal charges as well.

Authorities say the trio made up a story in late 2017 about Bobbitt giving $20 to help McClure when her car ran out of gas in Philadelphia. They gave newspaper and TV interviews and eventually raised more than $400,000 online. Authorities began investigating after Bobbitt sued the couple, accusing them of not giving him the money.

The federal criminal complaint alleges that all of the money raised in the campaign was spent by March 2018, with large chunks spent by McClure and D'Amico on an RV, a BMW and trips to casinos in Las Vegas and New Jersey.

D'Amico's plea Thursday was entered by attorney Mark Davis. Last month, D'Amico pleaded guilty in state court to misapplication of entrusted property and will serve a five-year term under an agreement with prosecutors.

GoFundMe spokesman Bobby Whithorne told CBS Philadelphia in December that "all donors who contributed to this GoFundMe campaign have been fully refunded" and the organization is cooperating fully with law enforcement.

"We have a zero tolerance policy for fraudulent behavior," he said. "If fraud occurs, donors get refunded and we work with law enforcement officials to recover the money."

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