TRENTON, N.J. — A woman charged with scamming GoFundMe donors out of more than $400,000 with a fake story about a homeless veteran was duped by her former boyfriend and genuinely thought she was helping the man, her attorney said Monday.
James Gerrow told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that Mark D’Amico was “calling the shots” in the alleged scheme that resulted in criminal charges last week against Katelyn McClure, D’Amico and homeless Marine Johnny Bobbitt.
The criminal complaint alleges the three concocted a feel-good story about the couple reaching out to help Bobbitt after he gave McClure his last $20 when her car ran out of gas in Philadelphia last year. Then McClure and D’Amico allegedly spent all the money on luxury items and casino trips.
"People have to understand that this was an abusive relationship. Mr. D'Amico was the one behind this and he was the one calling all the shots," Gerrow said. "She didn't understand or appreciate that this may very well be a crime."
Police raided a New Jersey couple’s home and hauled away a new BMW on Thursday after a homeless man accused them of helping themselves to some of the $400,000 in online donations they supposedly raised to help him start a new life.
It was unclear which attorney currently represents D'Amico. An attorney who was representing the couple last week declined to comment Monday on Gerrow's allegations.
McClure and D'Amico are charged with conspiracy and theft by deception. Bobbitt also is charged.
Less than an hour after the couple set up the page to solicit donations, McClure sent a text message to a friend acknowledging the story was "completely made up," prosecutors said last week.
"Ok so wait the gas part is completely made up, but the guy isn't," said Scott Coffina, the prosecutor of Burlington County in New Jersey, quoting the text message at a news conference Thursday. "I had to make something up to make people feel bad. So shush about the made up stuff."
Prosecutors began investigating months ago after Bobbitt claimed he wasn’t getting the money that had been raised on his behalf. He later sued the couple.