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One of the defendants who conceived the fictitious GoFundMe “Paying it Forward” campaign was sentenced to five years in New Jersey state prison for participating in the fraudulent scheme that misled donors into contributing more than $402,000 to a fabricated cause, authorities said.

Mark D’Amico, 43, of Florence, was sentenced Friday, Aug.

5 in Superior Court in Mount Holly, according to Burlington County Prosecutor LaChia L. Bradshaw

D'Amico pleaded guilty in December 2019 to misapplication of entrusted property, she said. He's already serving a 27-month sentence in federal prison on related charges.

GoFundMe voluntarily reimbursed the donors.

At the time, it was the largest fraud perpetrated through the crowdfunding company.

The donations were supposed to go to a homeless veteran but instead were spent by two co-defendants on casino gambling and personal items such as a BMW, a New Year’s trip to Las Vegas, a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon and Louis Vuitton handbags, Bradshaw said.

“People genuinely wanted to believe it was true,” Bradshaw said. “But it was all a lie, and it was illegal. Our office is pleased to bring justice for the more than 14,000 kind-hearted people who thought they were helping someone who was living in a desperate situation.”

D’Amico was charged in late 2018 – along with his girlfriend at the time, Katelyn McClure of Bordentown, and Johnny Bobbitt of Philadelphia – with concocting the feel-good story that misled potential donors into believing the money would go to help Bobbitt, a homeless veteran living on the streets of Philadelphia.

Bobbitt pleaded guilty in March 2019 to conspiracy to commit theft by deception and was admitted into the New Jersey Judiciary’s Recovery Court program when sentenced in April 2019. The program allows those with addiction problems to seek treatment instead of being incarcerated.

McClure admitted that she advanced the false narrative about Bobbitt, saying it was at D’Amico’s direction, and pleaded guilty in April 2019 to theft by deception in exchange for a four-year term in state prison. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 9 in Superior Court in Mount Holly.

The state cases against the trio in New Jersey Superior Court were put on hold while charges were pursued on the federal level by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of New Jersey.

D’Amico was sentenced in April to 27 months in federal prison. His state and federal sentences are running concurrently. McClure was sentenced last month in federal court to a term of one year and one day. 

They were ordered by the federal judge to make full restitution to GoFundMe.

Bobbitt is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 23 in U.S. District Court in Camden.

The “Paying it Forward” GoFundMe campaign was created on Nov. 10, 2017, soon after D’Amico took a picture of McClure and Bobbitt standing in front of the Girard Avenue exit ramp on Interstate 95 in Philadelphia. The fairy tale narrative that accompanied the photo indicated that McClure had run out of gas, and Bobbitt spent his last $20 to help her get back on her way.

The campaign listed a goal of $10,000 to provide Bobbitt with rent for an apartment, a reliable vehicle and six months of living expenses, among other things. But the incoming funds far exceeded their expectations and were quickly spent by McClure and D’Amico on casino gambling and personal items such as a BMW and handbags, Bradshaw said.

Within a few months of the campaign’s creation, all of the donated funds had been spent. Once he realized the money had been squandered, Bobbitt took civil action against D’Amico and McClure. He alleged in August 2018 through his attorneys that he had only received approximately $75,000 of the funds raised on his behalf.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutor Andrew McDonnell, supervisor of the BCPO Insurance Fraud Unit. The investigation was conducted by the Prosecutor’s Office Financial Crimes Unit and High-Tech Crimes Unit, with assistance from the Florence Township Police Department.

News Source: dailyvoice.com

Tags: d’amico a homeless veteran sentenced in april in federal prison paying it forward pleaded guilty philadelphia was sentenced in new jersey campaign state prison the campaign mcclure at the time that misled donors into the federal crimes unit

Michigan AG Nessel Seeks Special Prosecutor in 2020 Election Probe

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Maryland Republicans Respond To Mar-A-Lago Raid At Trump Resort

Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who is no friend or supporter of former President Donald Trump, has joined other members of the GOP in calling out the prosecutors involved in a raid at his Florida resort, claiming that the actions at Mar-a-Lago risk separating an “America (that) was already dangerously divided.”

Trump’s Florida estate was raided by the FBI during the execution of a search warrant at the Palm Beach resort as federal officials investigate his handling of classified presidential documents.

The move has drawn both the ire of some politicians and praise from others as many seek answers about the controversial president's term in the Oval Office.

Hogan, who has been a vociferous critic of Trump in the past, issued a statement the day after the FBI search, claiming that if the federal government is unable to “provide overwhelming evidence that action was absolutely necessary, then it will only undermine faith in democracy and the rule of law," which he says will only further the divide America faces.

“These are unprecedented circumstances that require unprecedented transparency and accountability from our government institutions,” Hogan said.

“The American people deserve to know all the facts as soon as possible, and I call on the Biden administration to release - at a minimum- the documents authorizing the FBI search.”

Hogan wasn't the only one to call out the federal government.

Dan Cox, a staunch Trump supporter who recently won the GOP Gubernatorial Primary, took to social media to defend the former president, calling on fellow Republicans to do the same.

The gubernatorial hopeful also stated that officials are "using their offices for their own political weaponization against Republicans and our greatest President of the United States who actually did what he said when elected and returned power to the people.”

“Presidents have plenary powers to declassify and keep papers,” Cox stated. “This FBI raid of Trump’s home is nothing short of communist Stasi police state tactics.

“It has no place in any civilization and never in America. These current members of the administration are not above the law.”

Congressman Andry Harris did not release a statement following the raid, but retweeted a message from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, condemning the incident.

Trump also answered to the raid, calling the FBI's actions "an assault (that could only take place in broken third-world countries." 

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