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A New Jersey man who made up a story about a homeless veteran helping out his then-girlfriend and used the tale to solicit more than $400,000 in online donations was sentenced to five years in state prison on Friday.

Mark D’Amico had pleaded guilty in December 2019 and admitted concocting the feel-good tale in late 2017 about Johnny Bobbitt Jr.

giving his last $20 to help D’Amico’s girlfriend, Katelyn McClure, when her car ran out of gas on Interstate 95 in Philadelphia.

Prosecutors said at the time that the three had met previously and cooked up the scheme to make money. They conducted newspaper and television interviews and solicited donations, ostensibly to help Bobbitt, through a GoFundMe campaign they named “Paying It Forward.”

The campaign raised more than $400,000 from about 14,000 donors in about a month and at the time was the largest fraud perpetrated through the crowdfunding platform, according to the prosecutor’s office in Burlington County, New Jersey.

Authorities began investigating after Bobbitt sued the couple, accusing them of not giving him the money. They eventually determined that all of the money was spent by March 2018, with large chunks spent by McClure and D’Amico on a recreational vehicle, a BMW and trips to casinos in Las Vegas and New Jersey.

“People genuinely wanted to believe it was true,” Burlington County Prosecutor LaChia Bradshaw said in a statement Friday. “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 and McClure have been ordered to fully reimburse GoFundMe.

D’Amico had also pleaded guilty to separate federal charges and is currently in federal prison in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. His state sentence will run concurrently, and when he finishes his 27-month federal sentence he will serve the remainder of his state time, according to the prosecutor’s office.

McClure and Bobbitt also pleaded guilty to state and federal charges. Bobbitt is in a state drug court program as part of his plea agreement and is awaiting federal sentencing. McClure was sentenced to one year on federal charges and is awaiting sentencing on state charges, where she is expected to receive additional time.

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Tags: to the prosecutor’s office the prosecutor’s office to the prosecutor’s prosecutor’s office the prosecutor’s federal charges burlington county was sentenced mcclure at the time

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Alabama boy, 12, who fabricated story about an intruder killing his mother admits to cops that he accidentally shot her dead in their home

A 12-year-old boy confessed to accidentally shooting his mother, a 29-year-old registered nurse, after he originally claimed she was killed by an intruder in the family's Forestdale, Alabama home.

Ayobiyi Cook, who friends called 'Yo-Yo', was found dead in the suburban home on the 2400 block of Freemont Avenue after midnight on August 6. 

The youth, who was not identified by investigators with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, had originally told police that an intruder had entered their house, shot his mother and then ran away.

Ayobiyi Cook, 29, a registered nurse in Alabama, was accidentally killed by her 12-year-old son

Ayobiyi Cook, 29, celebrates here at a Mexican restaurant. She was killed when her 12-year-old boy accidentally shot her in her Forestdale home

Ayobiyi Cook and her husband Jarvis Cook, a Birmingham police officer, was working at the time of her death

Ayobiyi Cook and her husband, Jarvis Cook; the father will look after the boy after the youth accidentally shot his mother

'The child originally fabricated a story that detectives determined was not possible,' Deputy Chief David Agee said. 

'After investigation, Sheriff’s Detectives were able to determine that the victim’s 12-year-old son unintentionally discharged a firearm striking his mother causing her death.'

After more probing, the boy finally changed his story.

The Cook family home on Freemont Avenue where Ayobiyi Cook was accidentally shot by her 12-year-old son

'The child eventually gave a true account of what happened,' Agree said. 'Evidence on the scene supports that the shooting was unintentional and the offense will be addressed through the Family Court system. The family has been cooperative throughout the process and the child will remain with them.'

The boy's father is an officer with the Birmingham Police Department and was working at the time of the shooting, according to Birmingham Real-Time News.

The boy told police that he had seen the man running away from the suburban home.

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'This offense is a tragedy for the Cook family and the entire community,' Agee said.

The funeral for the slain mom will be held on August 12 at the Faith Memorial Chapel in Bessmer, Alabama. 

Loved ones are encouraged to wear orange, which was her favorite color.

Read more:
  • Mother found dead in Forestdale home was ‘unintentionally’ shot, killed by 12-year-old son - al.com

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